Page 1

April 2012

High School Finalists Win 2012 Design Challenge with Newspaper Packing Device

Cottonwood Honors U.S. Rep. Yoder for Developmental Disability Advocacy

Self-Advocates ‘Cross the White Line’ to Increase Employment for People with Significant Disabilities


Workplace ‘Cross the White Line’ to 6 Self-Advocates Increase Employment for People with

Significant Disabilities The NISH Government Affairs Department recently conducted a self-advocate training pilot in Phoenix, Ariz. in late January. The goal of the pilot was to prepare self-advocates better to tell their ‘stories’ to local members of Congress. The Federal Insight

and Air Force Support 10 NISH Quality through ACC Alliance 11 Policy Corner 13 View from Washington The Design Challenge School Finalists Win 2012 Design Challenge 14 High with Newspaper Packing Device The Nonprofit Agency Link

17 Developmental Disability Advocacy DAU Symposium Lauds 18 AbilityOne® Program DePaul Industries Begins Administrative 19 Services at Fort Huachuca, Ariz. Cottonwood Honors U.S. Rep. Yoder for

The Workforce Inclusive


Oswego Industries, Inc. Receives Contract from United States Coast Guard to Make Winter Dress Blue Shirts

4 12 22 23

President’s Message PL Additions AbilityOne Program Success Story Hats Off

On the cover: The

winning team of the 2012 AbilityOne Design Challenge, Poolesville High School, created the Newspaper Packing Device for the NISH nonprofit agency, Community Support Services, located in Gaithersburg, Md.

Volume 38, No. 4 April 2012

Workplace is published monthly by NISH, 8401 Old Courthouse Road, Vienna, VA 22182. NISH is a nonprofit organization that supports the AbilityOne® Program to assist nonprofit agencies in employing people with significant disabilities by obtaining federal contracts. If you would like additional information on any subject in Workplace, contact Lynne Harris at lharris@ Address corrections or additions should be mailed to the managing editor at the above address; please include the old mailing label. Reproduction of material in Workplace with permission is encouraged. William Coleman, Jr., Chair E. Robert Chamberlin President and CEO, NISH NISH Board of Directors

Elmer Cerano, Immediate Past Chair Paul Atkinson, Chair Elect Brenda Yarnell, Treasurer Frederick Beaman, Secretary Jerry Bettenhausen Peter Berns Dean Emerson Frederick Frese Jim Gibbons David Gonzales Stephen Katsurinis Steven King Mike Kivitz Amy Luttrell Wayne McMillan Thomas Miller Rhea Nelson Barbara Nurenberg Steve Perdue Belinda Porras Wes Tyler Frederick Williams

Editorial Committee

Paul Atkinson Megan Branch Nancyellen Gentile Gisele McAuliffe Jay Thomas Lisa Ward Tony Young Executive Editor

Lynne Harris Managing Editor

Vatrice Jones Contributing Writers

Chianti Cleggett Rachel Crowell Sarah Gray Heather Loveridge Gisele McAuliffe

April 2012 | 3

President’s Message

True Pioneers Improve Lives for People with Disabilities quote from Paul G. Hearne in July 1989: “When I was 10, my parents told me I wouldn’t get around outside. I didn’t understand.

E. Robert Chamberlin NISH President and CEO

“I’m working for the passage of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) so that many as yet unborn people with disabilities will never have to learn to understand.” — Paul G. Hearnel Every year the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) holds an annual gala honoring those that have made a difference in the disability community. I had the good fortune to attend this year’s event. It was an outstanding evening and certainly one of the highpoints was the presentation of the Paul G. Hearne/ AAPD Leadership awards. In describing these awards, the 2012 Gala program contained the following 4 | NISH WORKPLACE

When I was 12, the school district told my parents they couldn’t send a teacher to tutor me. I didn’t understand. When I was 15, they said I couldn’t go to college. I didn’t understand. When I was 17, they said I’d never drive a car. I didn’t understand. When I was 18, my date told me her parents wouldn’t let her go out with me anymore. I didn’t understand. When I was 21, I was told I was too disabled to work. I didn’t understand. Now, I’m almost 40 and I understand. I’m working for the passage of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) so that many as yet unborn people with disabilities will never have to learn to understand.” What a great quote! Paul Hearne was an amazing individual who, in addition to pioneering many firsts in school and in his law career, was also the director of the National Council on Disability and the President of the Dole Foundation for Employment of People with Disabilities. He recognized that there was nothing that represented the unified potential of 54 million people with disabilities and in 1995 helped form the AAPD. AAPD is the nation’s largest crossdisability organization. Through a straightforward mission of promoting equal opportunity, economic power,

independent living and political participation, AAPD provides a forum for all people with disabilities– regardless of what specific disability they may have and regardless of what particular points of view they may have on how to best improve the lives of people with disabilities. What a beautiful and powerful concept! During the evening, I had the pleasure of spending some time with Mark Barlet who was one of the recipients of a leadership award. Mark is an Air Force veteran with a disability and a cofounder of AbleGamers Foundation. AbleGamers is focused on eliminating barriers to the digital revolution for people with disabilities through partnering with video game makers to bring cross-disability accessibility to the forefront of video game development. Mark also shows people with disabilities how video games and other forms of digital entertainment can be used for education, rehabilitation and social integration. “I want to show…that for people with disabilities, digital entertainment is not a frivolous waste of time but, in fact, a healthy, meaningful and socially rich experience that can add a richness to life that a disability may have taken way,” is how Mark put it. Hats off to Mark Barlet and the many others honored at the Gala. And hats off to Mark Perriello, the President and Chief Executive Officer of AAPD. The central, unifying focus of AAPD is right on point. “We are powerful, we are equal, and we are ready to win” is how Mark Perriello closed a letter to attendees; and Mark’s energy, excitement and enthusiasm is exactly what is needed to do just that. H

BIG Idea Exchange

Back by popular demand! The Big Idea Exchange 2012 offers more networking time to share best practices with peer nonprofit agencies. The Big Idea Exchange will be held immediately following the opening session of the national training and achievement conference.

WHAT IS A “BIG IDEA?” A big idea is anything that might be interesting to peers including efforts that help advance the joint mission of serving people with significant disabilities. These ideas may include best practices, innovations, rehabilitation or business related efforts.

HOW DOES IT WORK? Each participating NPA will be provided a draped exhibit table, two chairs, power and Internet access. Conference attendees will visit exhibit tables to discuss and share ideas, stories and best practices. NPAs become exhibitors in the ‘exhibit-less’ venue.

To request to participate, please contact Ana Rodriquez at or via at 571-226-4602.

Self Advocate Training


‘Cross the White Line’

to Increase Employment for People with Significant Disabilities

By Vatrice C. Jones, managing editor Legendary University of Alabama football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant was known for starting the practice season by lining up new football players on the field at one side of the white line. As he spoke to the players from the opposite side of the same white line, Bryant promised, “I’m going to give you the finest coaches that I can find to teach you the best football in the southeastern conference, the safest equipment and some of the finest sports doctors available should you get hurt. But on Saturday after-

The Pacific West Region self-advocate training pilot was held at Wigwam, an 80-year-old historic Arizona landmark.

noon when you cross this white line, you must cause something to happen.” Within the AbilityOne Network, some of the finest job coaches and leaders work diligently each day to make sure people with disabilities have what they need to make something happen in the workforce.


The Backdrop

The NISH Government Affairs Department recently conducted a self-advocacy training pilot within the NISH Pacific West Region (PWR) in Phoenix, Ariz. in late January. The goal of the pilot was to prepare self-advocates to better tell their stories to local members of Congress. This training was different from previous trainings where self-advocates would usually travel to the Washington, D.C. area to tell their ‘stories’ to their members of Congress. By focusing within the NISH PWR, the Government Affairs team was

able to provide more effective instruction by catering to specific needs and building strategies customized for the area. These strategies included a video taping session for the employees where their ‘stories’ were captured and took on a life of their own. By introducing the use of video, the self-advocate’s voice reach becomes mobile and real to the viewer. Up to this point, their voices were limited to those attending their meeting within the confines of the four walls of a member of Congress’ office.

Self Advocate Training SCENE ONE

PWR Executive Director David Dubinsky said the NISH PWR has been striving for ways to constantly include programs to empower the AbilityOne employees.

National Council of Work Centers Representative Carol Carr and NISH Board Members Tom Miller and Stephen King. The agenda included two tracks: ƒƒ The first track, specifically designed for self-advocates, involved AbilityOne® employees participating in an interactive session facilitated by Miller and Paul Stabile, former NISH Board Member. The goal of the session was to get the employees comfortable with telling their ‘stories’ to others whom they may not have known. ƒƒ The second track was centered around the nonprofit agency

leaders, family members and other nonprofit agency staff members. It was designed to establish and maintain self-advocacy groups at local nonprofit agencies (NPAs) as well as create self-advocacy campaigns to build awareness in the local community. During Dubinsky’s opening remarks, he mentioned that over the last four years, the PWR has been striving for ways to constantly include programs to empower the AbilityOne employees. “AbilityOne employees are really what this is all about. You are why I come

Self Advocate Training continued on Page 8


Government Affairs Director John Kelly opened the day and a half training session by welcoming all attendees to Wigwam, an 80-year-old, historic Arizona landmark. Kelly outlined the training agenda and recognized NISH Pacific West Region Executive Director David Dubinsky; During the training session, sample questions were shared with attendees so they could prepare for ones they might possibly hear during the on-camera interviews.

The two-person facilitator team of Tom Miller (left) and Paul Stabile (right) used unconventional, but effective approaches to getting the self-advocates prepared for video taping sessions.

April 2012 | 7

Self Advocate Training

Steven Shanks, self-Advocate and Beacon Group Consulting employee, responds to questions during his video taping session. Self Advocate Training continued from Page 7

to work everyday and why many of the people at your nonprofits come to work everyday,” said Dubinsky. Elise Hansen, former Evelyne Villines National Award winner and an employee with PARC, a NISH-affiliated NPA located in Clearfield, Utah, followed Dubinsky’s remarks by sharing her empowering story with attendees. She was born on Oct. 18, 1977 as a conjoined twin. Hansen’s speech was entitled “I’m Impatient” and she recounted several examples that revealed her determination in life to do things with very little help from others. As she shared events during her daily life, it was clear she lives a full life as a person with a disability and 8 | NISH WORKPLACE

she refuses to allow her disability to hinder her. While working as a parttime Wal-Mart® greeter, she admitted she was worried that because she suffers from seizures and has limited mobility on her right side it might prevent her from doing a good job.

disabilities. Hansen stated, “Winning the Villines Award helped me focus on helping others with disabilities.”

Despite her disabilities, Hansen was able to stop a shoplifter from stealing a big screen television. “Don’t try to steal anything when I am on duty,” exclaimed Hansen. She mentioned one of the best parts about her job at Wal-Mart® was her employee discount; she was able to purchase a laptop and an iPod.

Stabile and Miller welcomed selfadvocates as they congregated in the meeting room. Stabile is a former NISH Board member and retired NPA staff member. Miller was named Person of the Year with a Disability in South Dakota and has had many opportunities to speak with members of Congress to hone his skills to effectively advocate for people with disabilities. The two-person team was clearly the ideal choice to facilitate the self-advocate training session.

Hansen has traveled across the U.S. to advocate for people with disabilities. She is a shining example of the power of the human voice to make strides to improve the lives for people with significant

SCENE TWO Self-Advocate Training Session

As Stabile introduced himself to

Self Advocate Training

During dinner, attendees shared local stories, discussed obstacles unique to the area and developed ideas for overcoming the challenges.

attendees, he mentioned his passion for the AbilityOne Program. He addressed the session attendees by confirming that each person has their own unique story, wants and needs but what the attendees all had in common was they do not desire people without disabilities to tell their stories—self-advocates should. He later mentioned that self-advocates have to learn to speak for themselves. The session was designed to liberate attendees to do just that. After all, in light of looming budget cuts within the federal government, all voices are needed since the disability community might be the first group impacted as cuts occur.

to conduct themselves as they had during the day’s training session.

During one of the interactive exercises, attendees were asked to remove one of their shoes and place it in a pile in the center of the room. After all shoes were placed, each person had to pick any shoe other than their own. Eventually, each person ended up being a ‘sole mate’ to the person whose shoe they picked from the pile. This exercise, though unconventional in its approach, had a purpose: to assign self-advocate partners to a person they might not have selected on their own and to allow self-advocates to get comfortable telling their stories to someone they did not know.

The second day opened with the goal of regional action planning and one-by-one self-advocate video shoots. Kelly asked, “Are there any volunteers to go first?” His question yielded a flood of hands soaring into the air. By show of hands, day one of training had clearly accomplished its goal.

As the session progressed, sample questions were shared with attendees so they could prepare for ones they might possibly hear during the on-camera interviews. They were encouraged not to get nervous, but

During dinner, attendees shared local stories. Speakers Dave Cutty, President, Cutty Foundation and Bev Hermon, President, BH Consulting, Inc. discussed obstacles unique to the area and ideas for overcoming the challenges. As the first day’s events came to a close, the self-advocates displayed confidence and an eagerness to share in conversation.

SCENE THREE Action Plan and Video Taping

The video taping and the action planning sessions were held concurrently. Kelly explained the point of the Congressional Champions Program is to build familiarity with the AbilityOne Program so when issues arise on Capitol Hill, there are champions on the Hill that can provide a voice in support in the program. The session’s goal was to develop a plan to effectively educate and secure the entire Arizona Congressional delegates as champions of the AbilityOne Program. Steps to develop these relationships would

include visits to the members’ local offices; a visit from the Congressional member to the local NPA; purchasing AbilityOne products or services and Congressional letters of public support. Custodial services and office supply products are ones that likely may be used at local Congressional offices. The session attendees worked collaboratively formulating efforts to capture the largest number of Arizona delegates to become Congressional Champions. A chart was created that listed the Arizona members of Congress. The chart allowed attendees to easily recognize targets for building relationships. The target strategy included choosing a staff member to network with to send invitations for office visits and NPA tours.

Coming Attractions

As the training concluded and the attendees left Wigwam, there was both excitement and optimism. Subsequent to the training, contact with many Members of Congress was made by several of the advocates with even more planned for the coming weeks. Members of Congress are learning more about the AbilityOne Program and moving closer to champion recognition. “I am encouraged by these immediate results and hopeful that we will be able to do similar training in other local areas” Kelly said “but that is dependent ultimately on the outcomes of the this pilot training. We prepared folks to step across the white line— now we will see if things do indeed happen.” H April 2012 | 9

The Federal Insight

NISH and Air Force Support Quality through ACC Alliance By Tom Deagen, sr. quality manager, NISH Pacific West Region As NISH continues to stress the importance of quality and performance among affiliated, producing nonprofit agencies (NPA’s), so are the government agencies the program supports. In the Department of Defense community, the Air Force (AF) Air Combat Command (ACC) Installation and Mission Support Directorate and NISH have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to evolve a strategic business partnership to improve the delivery of service and quality for respective government customers and end users. Based on the principles of the Federal Acquisition Regulation, Part One, the AF Civil Engineering division, AF Contracting and NISH created an ACC Alliance Team to develop and implement consistent, mutually beneficial contract administration processes that accomplish the objectives of the MOU. Since May 2010, the NISH team, headed by NISH Contracts Manager Fil Tellez, and supported by Project Manager John Frisk and Sr. Quality Manager Tom Deagen, has been collaborating with the U.S. Air Force to establish partnering, negotiation, and pricing models, along with consistent quality processes and standards. The ACC Alliance Team includes representation of a producing AbilityOne NPA through the Vice President of Contract Administration and Information Technology, Kevin Cloud, of Professional Contract Services Incorporated (PCSI), headquartered in Austin, Texas. While the alliance is presently concentrating on custodial services, the team plans to evolve these 10 | NISH WORKPLACE

models into AbilityOne® grounds maintenance contracts with the ACC in the near future. Although cost or price is important, value is the stated contracting prerogative of the Air Force. Using the simple equation Price + Quality = Value, the ACC Alliance Team has focused its efforts on developing a Pricing Estimator based on the ISSA 540 Cleaning Times standards to determine labor costs, and consistent quality tools and Performance Work Statement (PWS) requirements, to deliver the best value. The Air Force’s decision to develop and implement a standardized PWS across all ACC custodial contracts was central to designing a robust quality system. The standardized PWS, developed by the AF Civil Engineering division, allows for more consistent pricing, quality and levels of service across the ACC command. The standardized PWS will also lead to improved management and measurement of contracts by validating that they are delivering best value. Section Two of the PWS now standardizes quality and contract service requirements, which are summarized in performance thresholds that are crucial to mission success.The performance thresholds briefly describe the acceptable levels of service for each requirement. Section Two of the PWS includes quality control, quality assurance and performance assessment requirements. The Air Force allowed the ACC Alliance Team to provide quality input to this section of the

PWS and has incorporated this input into the standardized PWS template. By doing this, the Air Force PWS is better aligned with FAR and industry recognized standards of practice. This PWS now delineates minor versus major non-conformances, identifies timeframes for re-performance of non-conformances, identifies number of allowed non-conformances by building size, and sets the expectation and outcomes of periodic quarterly progress meetings, making them a mandatory requirement of the contract. In order to synergize the compliance efforts of both the contractor and the government, the Standardized PWS template also clarifies the role of both parties in terms of quality requirements. The ACC Alliance team has fostered standardized “tools” to assist the entire acquisition team and the end user to communicate and manage contracts in a more collaborative manner. The Air Force has defined an AbilityOne acquisition team as containing a representative of the contract’s NPA, NISH, the government contracting authority and an end user (tenant). The ACC

NISH Signs MOU continued on Page 12

The Federal Insight



DOL Office of Disability Employment Policy Launches Jobs Skills Program By Tony Young, senior public policy strategist The federal government is replete with programs and other resources that can help people with disabilities with health, housing, transportation, and employment needs. One example is the new jobs-focused educational program launched in February by the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). The no-cost new educational program is aimed at helping people with disabilities improve “soft” jobs skills. The program is available at odep/topics/youth/softskills.

and competencies the businesses pegged as the most important. The need for the educational program arose when other surveys indicated that almost 75 percent of employers of high school graduates found many of their applicants and employees were deficient in such skills as punctuality, verbal communication, and working productively with others. ODEP said that businesses tell them that these soft skills are crucial to the hiring and employment success of all workers, including those with disabilities.

The program, “Skills to Pay the Bills: Mastering Soft Skills for Workplace Success,” offers “a collection of career development exercises and activities that focus on improving communication and other “soft” skills for young workers, including those with disabilities,” said the ODEP release announcing the program.

Kathleen Martinez, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy, heralded the new educational program as an important step towards increasing employment among young people with disabilities. “Dressing appropriately, showing up on time and networking with co-workers are all crucial to finding and keeping a job,” Martinez said. “For many young people, these skills are not intuitive. We hope educators, human resource professionals, job clubs and faith-based organizations will use the curriculum to help our youth build the skills to succeed in the workplace.”

The educational program focuses on skills related to communication, networking, enthusiasm and attitude, teamwork, problemsolving, critical thinking and professionalism. It includes a special selection of resources for skillsbuilding by people with disabilities, especially young people. The curriculum is based on information gleaned from a DOL survey of prominent businesses. The survey was designed to identify the skills

The curriculum is divided into six separate lessons: ƒƒ Communication: The lesson discusses both how to provide information to others and how to recognize how others would

prefer to receive information ƒƒ Enthusiasm and Attitude: This lesson focuses on positive thinking and attitude, and includes strategies on how to turn negative thinking into positive and enthusiastic interaction ƒƒ Teamwork: Working together takes skill—this lesson teaches both the importance of teamwork and how to achieve it ƒƒ Networking: This lesson teaches its students about the relevance of networking to career development—it zeroes in on taking initiative and overcoming fear, informational interviewing, and guidelines for using social networks, texting and email ƒƒ Problem Solving and Critical Thinking: In these exercises participants learn the difference between criticism, praise and appropriate reaction to feedback. The lesson also offers strategies for making ethical decisions, solving problems within a team, and how to factor in others when assessing workplace actions or statements ƒƒ Professionalism: This lesson is a blending of the first five—it brings together the communication, attitude, teamwork, networking and problem-solving skills into one “professional” skill set The additional resources for youth with disabilities include information

Public Policy Corner continued on Page 13

April 2012 | 11

Procurement List Additions

Products NSN(s): 8920-00-NSH-0130–Sweet Roll Mix, 6--5 LB Bags

8920-00-NSH-0131–Sweet Roll Mix, 6-4 LB Cans

8920-00-NSH-0132–Hot Roll Mix, 6-5 LB Bags

8920-00-NSH-0133–Hot Roll Mix, 6-4 LB Cans

Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support Philadelphia, PA Contracting Officer: John Steenberge Philadelphia, PA (215) 737-7445 Nonprofit Agency: Transylvania Vocational Services, Inc. Brevard, NC 2510-01-210-2748-Door Assembly, Heater/Defroster, HMMWV Series M998 Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime Columbus, OH Contracting Officer: Georgia Shirey, Columbus, OH (614) 692-4756 Nonprofit Agency: Opportunities, Inc. of Jefferson County, Fort Atkinson, WI

NISH Signs MOU continued from Page 10

Alliance Team developed an implementation training, spanning three days, regarding the proper use of standardized tools for all AbilityOne acquisition teams. The tools consist of a Communications Matrix, Action Register, Acquisitions Milestones Schedule, and a Pricing Estimator. When correctly incorporated, these tools will greatly enhance the acquisition teams’ ability to provide consistent quality, at fair and reasonable prices, with the ultimate goal of becoming the government’s best supplier of services. Any entity that is part of an acquisition team faces challenges in today’s economic environment that make it more and more critical to form partnerships and alliances that can reap the benefits of the FAR, Part One’s, principles of collabora-

tion. NISH and the U.S. Air Force ACC have made great strides into a mutually beneficial environment, capable of providing a win/win solution for everyone involved. By working collaboratively to provide direction, training and tools, the ACC Alliance Team continues to make very proactive inroads that will pave the way for future AbilityOne growth and thereby ensure that people with significant disabilities will have the opportunity to work. H

The Federal Insight

View from

By Tony Young, senior public policy strategist, NISH; and Danea M. Kehoe, Esq.

Proposed FLSA Reg Change Could Hurt Companion Care

The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) has proposed a change to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) minimum wage and overtime rules that the Center for Disability Rights (CDR) warns will result in unwanted institutionalization of people with disabilities. While the change—which would make the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime requirements applicable for most companion care workers—is well-intentioned, says the CDR, it must be accompanied by adequate funding or it will hurt both caregivers themselves and the people with disabilities who depend on their help. Background: The FLSA’s statutory companion care exception exempts companion care workers from the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime rules. Under current regulations, to qualify for the exception, a companion care worker may not provide medical services, and is restricted in the amount of general home care

services they can provide. In addition, the FLSA contains a special provision section for exempt live-in companion care workers (those who reside with the person to whom they provide care for). In its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) published in December of 2011, DOL’s WHD further restricts the scope of both the companion care and the live-in FLSA exceptions. Both exceptions would no longer be available for companion care workers who are employed by a third party—a companion care company or a referral service. Only the household (patient/ client or his/her family) could employ an exempt caregiver. In addition, the scope of the services the companion provides would be restricted. Rather than being allowed to provide fellowship, safety-related service, and general care consistent with current rules, under the proposed changes an exempt companion care worker could provide only fellowship and safety-related services. “Care” could

Public Policy Corner continued from Page 11

on career planning and assessment, disability disclosure, job accommodation networks, and a link to the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth. These resources help participants with disabilities tailor the larger soft skills lessons to the unique situations faced by people with disabilities. The curriculum is user-friendly and lessons can be downloaded from the DOL site. Each starts with a discussion of the lesson’s concept, and then provides hands-on exercises to demonstrate how the concept works. The lessons feature the amount of time it takes to complete each exercise, lists the materials needed to complete it, and provides clear directions on how to do the task featured in the exercise. The exercises

be provided only to the extent it is incidental to fellowship or safety, and only to the extent that it does not exceed 20 percent of the hours per week the companion works. Finally, to qualify for the live-in exception, a companion care worker would have to keep records of actual hours worked, in addition to the agreement regarding sleep and other personal time that current rules require. These changes mean the vast majority of companion care workers could no longer be exempt from the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime rules. Most personal assistants for people with disabilities would be affected by the rules change. DOL is now evaluating the hundreds of comments submitted during the comment period that closed on March 21. Agency personnel say that while they have a responsibility to interpret and enforce the FLSA, they are open to the input they have received from affected constituencies. H

are designed for small groups, and include discussion points built around specific questions and activities. The “Skills to Pay the Bills” program is an important resource available without charge from DOL. It could give young people with disabilities a leg up in a competitive jobs market. To the extent these young job applicants and novice workers demonstrate mastery of what employers have tagged as important employment requirements, they will win greater consideration, especially for entry-level jobs where these soft skills can trump other more technical skill sets. H

April 2012 | 13

Design Challenge

High School Finalists Win 2012 Design Challenge with Newspaper Packing Device By Chianti C. Cleggett, contributing feature writer

Pictured from left to right: Stephanie Hurd, program manager, NISH Institute for Economic Empowerment; Evelyne Villines, national disability self-advocate; Poolesville High School coach and design team and NISH President and CEO Bob Chamberlin.

Members of the Poolesville High School design team, 2012 First Place team winners, explain their assistive technology device during the Challenge held in the Washington, D.C. metro area on March 9.

“The AbilityOne® Design Challenge is a service learning opportunity for students that also teaches science, engineering and technology,” explains Stephanie Hurd, program manager at the NISH Institute for Economic Empowerment. A teaching tool, the Challenge benefits all who are involved. “The students are inspired to use their technology skills to help a person with a disability. The person with the disability is empowered in the workplace to either increase productivity in their current job or have a new job opportunity opened up to them.” The 2012 finalists were: ƒƒ Gulliver Preparatory School, Miami, Fla. — The A.H.A.B. (Adaptive Hand Assistive Brace) ƒƒ Poolesville High School, Poolesville, Md. — Newspaper Packing Device ƒƒ St. Ursula Academy, Toledo, Ohio — The Pathway ƒƒ Wallenpaupack Area High School, Hawley, Penn. — Mail Counter ƒƒ Wethersfield High School, Wethersfield, Conn. — The File Up 14 | NISH WORKPLACE

Design Challenge

The top five finalist teams pose for a photo at the 2012 AbilityOne Design Challenge. The teams included students from Gulliver Preparatory School, Miami, Fla.; Poolesville High School, Poolesville, Md.; St. Ursula Academy, Toledo, Ohio; Wallenpaupack Area High School, Hawley, Penn. and Wethersfield High School, Wethersfield, Conn.

The Pathway—St. Ursula Academy/Toledo, Ohio

The winning team, Poolesville High, created their project for the NISH-affiliated nonprofit agency, Community Support Services, in Gaithersburg, Md. The Newspaper Packing Device helps a person with a disability fold and insert a newspaper into a plastic bag. More information about the finalists may be

The A.H.A.B.—Gulliver Preparatory School/Miami, Fla.

found at www.A1designchallenge. org. In its 10 years, says Hurd, the Challenge continues to make a tremendous impact. “It increases visibility to students, schools and families who wouldn’t be aware of the program otherwise. It

also provides direct assistance to AbilityOne employees at agencies around the country.” More than 8,000 individuals, including students and teachers, have been reached by the Challenge, says Hurd. “The program has touched at least

Design Challenge continued on Page 16

April 2012 | 15

Design Challenge

The File Up—Wethersfield High School/Wethersfield, Conn.

Mail Counter—Wallenpaupack Area High School/Hawley, Penn.

Design Challenge continued from Page 15

500 family or friends, another 500+ people in the schools or community, and most importantly, the 500+ individuals for whom the devices were designed.” The Ability One Design Challenge is open to high school student teams who submit assistive technology devices or systems that address employment barriers for people with disabilities in areas such as: computer access and use, service delivery, seating and mobility and environmental accommodation. The top five teams travel to Washington, D.C., where they give a 15-minute presentation and are judged on varied criteria including the usefulness, cost and ease-of-use of their design. The First Place team receives $5,000, two Second Place teams receive $3,000 each, and two Finalists receive $1,000. Throughout the project creation, the students maintained a clear focus. “We really thought about what would


“The AbilityOne® Design Challenge is a service learning opportunity for students that also teaches science, engineering and technology. The students are inspired to use their technology skills to help a person with a disability. The person with the disability is empowered in the workplace to either increase productivity in their current job or have a new job opportunity opened up to them.”

—  Stephanie Hurd Program Manager, NISH Institute for Economic Empowerment

help the employees and tried to make a device that was simple but could help make their work easier,” says one student finalist. Another student added, “I really liked the Design Challenge because it teaches the design process while teaching compassion.” The Design Challenge has helped transform the lives of people with disabilities, too. “Frequently these employees are paid based on productivity and [the Challenge projects] increase income potential, which leads to a better quality of life,” says Hurd, who has worked with the Challenge for six years. “The high school students are using inventions to increase the productivity and employment choices of persons with significant disabilities,” she adds. “These are some of the brightest and most talented students in the country!” H

The Nonprofit Agency Link

Cottonwood Honors U.S. Rep. Yoder for Developmental Disability Advocacy By Karrey Britt, health reporter The following article first appeared on The article and photos are reprinted with permission.

Congressman Kevin Yoder gives high fives to members of the Cottonwood choir Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012, at Cottonwood Inc., 2801 W. 31st St. Cottonwood honored Yoder with an AbilityOne Champion Award for advocating on behalf of people with developmental disabilities.

Congressman Kevin Yoder gave highfives to individuals with developmental disabilities Thursday morning after they performed “Home on the Range” and “America the Beautiful” for him. They were members of a choir at Lawrence’s Cottonwood, Inc., which employs and provides services for about 300 people with developmental disabilities. Cottonwood honored Yoder, a Republican from the 3rd District, with an AbilityOne® Champion award for advocating on its behalf. “Thank you for your support and all that you do to help us,” Cottonwood CEO Sharon Spratt said in front of about 100 Cottonwood employees and a handful of board members. Yoder toured Cottonwood last summer and then spoke on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C., about how the nonprofit

organization is using federal dollars to employ people with developmental disabilities to produce cargo tie-down straps for all branches of the military. Soldiers use the straps to move supplies on trucks, ships and planes, and Cottonwood is the sole producer of them. Last year, Cottonwood produced more than 600,000. “I think it’s a win-win program,” Yoder said. “We are able to put folks to work with meaningful activities that actually produce goods that are used by our troops around the world and at an affordable rate. I think it’s just the type of program that shows a great partnership between the federal government and private industry.” Cottonwood has received a five-year U.S. Department of Defense contract to make the straps since 1999. It’s in its third year of a five-year contract, which provides jobs like sewing, label-

Susan Boose, foreground, and Ralph Landreth work on sealing the packages of cargo tie-down straps Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012, at Cottonwood Inc. The straps are used by all branches of the military to move supplies. Last year, Cottonwood produced 600,000 of them.

Congressman Kevin Yoder, R-Kansas, right, receives an award Thursday, Feb. 23, for being a champion for people with developmental disabilities at Cottonwood Inc. in Lawrence. He is pictured with Cottonwood CEO Sharon Spratt, left, and William Jefferson, of the NISH National Office.

ing and packing for between 30 and 60 people each day. After the ceremony, longtime employee Susan Boose was working with a machine that sealed the packaging of the straps. She said she enjoyed her job and described it as a great way to earn money. “It’s fun,” she said with a smile. H April 2012 | 17

The Nonprofit Agency Link

DAU Symposium Lauds AbilityOne Program By Gisele McAuliffe, contributing feature writer The AbilityOne® Program’s positive impact on small business and the employment of people with significant disabilities was extoled to contracting personnel attending the 2012 Defense Acquisition University (DAU) Alumni Association South Region Symposium in Huntsville, Ala. During presentations on Feb. 22, several speakers emphasized the positive and mutually beneficial relationship between small business and AbilityOne contractors. Tina Ballard, executive director of the U.S. AbilityOne Commission, referred to the “myth” that AbilityOne hurts small business. “This is definitely not the case,” she said. While the AbilityOne Program achieved record employment last year, she demonstrated that AbilityOne sales are significantly lower than small business sales, and are not growing at the same pace. Small business programs are on an entirely different trajectory, she said. Ballard noted that AbilityOne and small businesses often work together, and in fact, AbilityOne nonprofit agencies subcontract millions of dollars with small businesses each year. According to Bryan Dodson, president and CEO of Phoenix, a Huntsville-based nonprofit agency, commercial enterprises fervently endorse and benefit from the AbilityOne Program. “In Huntsville, small business owners are hugely supportive of our mission and are some of our greatest proponents,” Dodson said. “Many of them partner with us to place people with disabilities in competitive jobs, for example, Kroger and Publix supermarkets, the Westin Hotel and a medical data management firm that performs computing and scanning work for doctors’ offices. Offering individuals the independence and self-sufficiency that comes from a job, rather than being totally dependent on tax-funded government social welfare programs, is a very positive concept to area businesses.” Dodson added that when business owners learn how much AbilityOne jobs save them in tax dollars, they invariably support the program and Phoenix’s mission. He noted that four members of the Phoenix board of directors are small business owners. “They believe as we do that the AbilityOne program changes lives,” Dodson said. “They are committed to us because they believe in what we are doing. They know we are saving the country money and they agree that 18 | NISH WORKPLACE

One way local businesses often benefit from the AbilityOne Program is by supplying vital materials to nonprofit agencies. For example, these tractors and mowers represent a $4.5 million sale recently made by a Huntsville, Ala. supplier to the nonprofit agency, Phoenix. The equipment was purchased for an AbilityOne lands maintenance contract at Redstone Arsenal.

providing jobs to people with disabilities is the right thing to do for our fellow man.” Phoenix employs some 600 people who perform AbilityOne jobs at Redstone Arsenal in Madison County, Ala. Their responsibilities range from providing custodial services at hundreds of buildings to grounds maintenance across some 5,300 acres of land. According to Dodson, small businesses benefit from these contracts because they supply Phoenix with millions of dollars worth of materials. “For the grounds maintenance, we purchased $4.5 million worth of tractors and mowers from Huntsville Tractor and Equipment, representing the largest single sale ever for that local 40-year-old firm,” Dodson said. Phoenix also buys all of its cleaning supplies, floor finish, toilet paper and light bulbs for its AbilityOne custodial services contracts from local small businesses. Those purchases total $1.6 million annually. In addition, Phoenix’s manufacturing division buys more than $6.5 million in materials from small business to manufacture burial flags for the Veterans Administration, parachutist harnesses, air deployment systems and a variety of missile carrying straps for the U.S. Army. “Here in Huntsville, business people believe in what we do,” Dodson said. “Several businesses regularly call us with leads about job placements and contract work. They are out there selling for us.” H

The Nonprofit Agency Link

DePaul Industries Begins Administrative Services at Fort Huachuca, Ariz. By Sarah Royal, outside marketing specialist, DePaul Industries and Sarah Patton, sr. project analyst, NISH Pacific West Region

Nicolett Flores reviews an assignment brief with supervisor Jon Maddy.

Since initiating services with grounds maintenance in 1995, the AbilityOne® Program has performed several lines of services at the Fort Huachuca Army Base in Sierra Vista, Ariz.. J.P. Industries, Inc. operates Ft. Huachuca’s oldest AbilityOne contract while the Cochise County Association for the Handicapped has provided custodial service work since 2000. The Beacon Group SW, Inc. initiated a small secure document destruction service contract in 2006. Finally, as of September 2011, DePaul Industries began performing the most recent AbilityOne project on base—administrative services. AbilityOne anticipates more service opportunities at Ft. Huachuca in the not too distant future. DePaul Industries’ administrative services is significant to AbilityOne, as the majority of the positions at Fort Huachuca require workers with higher-functioning skills for jobs such as administrative assistants, supply technicians, mail couriers, and

warehouse technicians—and since it is staffed mainly by U.S. veterans. “Because of the unique skills required for this administrative services project, NISH and DePaul Industries developed an extensive regional recruiting effort.” said Don Landsittel, NISH Pacific West senior business development manager, and the project lead who added this requirement to the U.S. AbilityOne Commission Procurement List. “The contact network is focused on locating disabled veterans. It includes regional nonprofits, numerous Army outplacement programs, multiple programs sponsored by the Department of Veteran Affairs, and Arizona state agencies. As one might expect, all of these contacts were eager to assist, and it’s been very rewarding toward our collaboration efforts and especially in staffing disabled veterans,” Landsittel elaborated. Veterans with disabilities represent a special breed of potential employees, because they possess skilled training

AbilityOne employees Larry Sipes, Dan Zelazny, and Jim Lull collaborate while processing documents.

from the armed forces and service careers but they can no longer serve their country in an active duty capacity. Disabled veterans can have an extremely difficult time finding a job in the private sector, as private sector employers often are uninformed about the benefits of hiring veterans with disabilities and people with disabilities in general. “These veterans have had to change their career path due to disability,” said Lenore Derrick, branch manager for DePaul Industries’ Arizona location, “but they come pre-equipped with all of this specialized knowledge, skills, and discipline. In addition, they’re motivated and want to work. Who wouldn’t want a worker like that?” As of 2011, DePaul Industries has employed a total of 474 veterans across multiple business units in three western states.

DePaul Industries continued on Page 23

April 2012 | 19

The Nonprofit Agency Link

Oswego Industries, Inc. Receives Contract from United States Coast Guard to Make Winter Dress Blue Shirts Oswego Industries, Inc. is pleased to announce that it has been awarded an AbilityOne® contract to produce Winter Dress Blue shirts for the United States Coast Guard. The contract, signed in February, is the result of the company’s efforts to grow the Textile Manufacturing division with new product production to increase the mission on training and employment of persons with disabilities, military disabled and assistance of all people with barriers to employment. This is the third military contract secured by Oswego Industries, Inc. and is scheduled to begin production in May 2012. The 5-year contract will produce 1780 units in the first purchasing year. The Winter Dress Blue long-sleeve shirt matches the color and material of the trousers worn in the USCG Winter Dress Blue uniform. This uniform may be used by members between November and March for general office wear, visits to Coast Guard units and appropriate assignments on duty. This uniform is meant to be the basic cold climate, non-operational uniform which may be worn in lieu of the USCG Service Dress Blue uniform. The AbilityOne Program, a federal purchasing program ensuring a market for products generated by people who are blind or who have other severe disabilities, is a coordinated effort on behalf of the Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled, National Industries for the Blind (NIB) and NISH—Creating Employment Opportunities for People with Severe Disabilities. This employment coordination effort has allowed people who have disabilities to acquire job skills and training, 21 | NISH WORKPLACE

Coast Guard: (From left to right) Contract signing with CWO David Rudd from USCG HQ Uniforms Program Office, Business Development Director Leo Waite from Oswego Industries, Inc. and Contracting Officer James Dawson from USCG for the construction of USCG Dress Blue Winter Shirts by Oswego Industries, Inc.

receive good wages and benefits, and gain greater independence and quality of life. Oswego Industries, Inc. is a private, not-for-profit Community Rehabilitation Program which has been providing programs and services to adults with disabilities since 1968. Services include pre-vocational and vocational training, day habilitation services, and Medicaid Service Coordination. Its mission is to be a partner in the development of comprehensive community services designed to improve the quality of life for all people, with the primary emphasis on those with disabilities, by providing the necessary support programs to enable individuals to grow with dignity and achieve their highest level of independence and self-fulfillment. The organization was named winner of the Chamber

of Commerce Not-For-Profit of the Year Award for 2009. Its sister agency, ARC of Oswego County, provides services to children and seniors with disabilities: together creating a comprehensive support system for Oswego County residents with disabilities. H

April 2012 | 21

The Workplace Inclusive

AbilityOne Program Success Story

AbilityOne Program Gives Pegler the Chance to Develop New Skills By Heather Loveridge, contributing feature writer For Paul Pegler, the AbilityOne® Program has enhanced his life in many ways. Not only has it supplied him with a job, but it has also provided experiences and support that have helped him grow and develop new skills.

“Through the experience and support Paul has acquired in the AbilityOne Program, he has learned to harness his anxiety and recognize for himself the many talents he posses,” Hawkins said. “His commitment to taking initiative in the workplace when the supervisor is not readily available is contagious among his fellow team members, motivating others to mimic his behavior.”

Pegler has struggled with an emotional disability and, before joining the AbilityOne Program, was unemployed for a number of months. The lack of employment itself exacerbated his disability.

Even AspenPointe’s federal customer has noticed the outstanding job Pegler does.

“I had pretty much given up hope of finding a fulfilling job,” Pegler said. “I became disappointed and emotionally unstable for lack of fulfillment, which impacted my energy level and motivation.” But, in 2003, Pegler heard about Community Rehabilitation Provider (CRP) AspenPointe Enterprises, a Colorado mental health and behavioral health services organization. In July, he started working for AspenPointe as part of the furniture and assembly team for the CRP’s Peterson Air Force Base furniture reuse contract. “Because office furniture is comprised of many parts, accuracy and attention to detail are critical to successfully fulfilling the contract. Paul demonstrates his understanding of these demands by setting a shining example for his fellow team members,” said Thomas Hawkins, furniture and assembly manager for AspenPointe. “He made it a priority to learn the names of various furniture parts as well as their respective functions so he can locate specific parts as they are needed. He also takes the lead on organizing furniture parts in the staging area for each 22 | NISH WORKPLACE

project in a way that minimizes the time fellow team members spend searching for a specific part.” Having the freedom to expand his skill set is Pegler’s favorite part of his job. “I really enjoy having the responsibility to be a self-starter at times while on the job,” Pegler said. “My duties change frequently while I’m helping with assembling office furniture, so it’s nice to have diversity and an opportunity to learn something new each day.” According to Hawkins, despite strong feelings of anxiety around groups of people, Pegler still constantly maintains his composure in the workplace. If needed, he will take time to communicate with his fellow team members if he feels disoriented or overwhelmed. And, even though his disability prevents him from driving a car, he hasn’t let that stop him from being at work every day, on time.

“Paul is very focused and mission oriented and is a wonderful asset to our furniture team,” said Michael Brassard, facilities manager, NORADUSNORTHCOM HQ. “Paul is also willing to share his God-given talent with co-workers by training newcomers to the job crew, and is very customerservice oriented. Desire to learn his trade, along with hustle and high-quality work has made Paul a very valuable team member for AspenPointe and NORADUSNORTHCOM HQ Facilities office.” Outside work, Pegler serves in his church and is known for helping his friends whenever he can. He also enjoys writing and has published a book of original poems. “Thanks to AbilityOne, I’ve gained stability when it comes to finances as well as a sense of independence, which has helped increase my energy level and level of satisfaction,” Pegler said. “I’m still learning, but I continue to gain social and work skills. I can say if I chose to move on to a different job, I am confident I could find a job with the skills I have developed while being part of AbilityOne.” H

Eyebrow Hats Head Off Military Recognizes TRDI Employee for Outstanding Service

While attending the outgoing ceremony for Command Sergeant Major Michael E. Ashford, TRDI employee June Burrow was invited to sit alongside CSM Ashford and his wife. CSM Ashford was acknowledged for his accomplishments. CSM Ashford has attended numerous military and civilian schools, held various leadership positions and received several military awards and decorations. CSM Ashford presented Burrow with a Texas-shaped coin for appreciation of her service to the military. Hats off are definitely in order for Burrow‘s hard work and dedication. H DePaul Industries continued from Page 19

The $25.7 million outsourcing nonprofit leverages a unique selfsustaining blend of business to support its mission: to help people with disabilities have the opportunity to work. As an AbilityOne contractor operating two current federal contracts, DePaul Industries recognized the skills of motivated disabled veterans who still want to serve their country but cannot continue to do so in a direct service capacity. The organization was able to combine its 40 years of disability, administrative services, and staffing knowledge to develop a highly productive work team for Ft. Huachuca. Antoinette Mims is an AbilityOne employee on the administrative services contract at Fort Huachuca. Mims served in the Army and was injured overseas, and as a result, has a non-visible injury and disability. Her disability didn’t limit her restlessness in searching for work, however. Through months of bouncing back and forth from workforce development organizations, to temp agencies, to networking through her church and community, Mims struggled to find any employment—much less, the intellectuallystimulating employment that she desired. “I want to work,” Mims said. “My family and friends saw me stressed out over my experience, and

Command Sergeant Major Michael E. Ashford and his wife (far left and right) share a photo opportunity with TRDI employee June Burrow (center).

would tell me to chill out. ‘Chill out?’ I don’t have a chill-out mentality.” Once the AbilityOne contract began, Mims was immediately contacted by a DePaul employment specialist. “DePaul asked me about my abilities—‘What can you do? What can’t you do?’ No one in my entire work experience had ever cared before,” said Mims. “My employment specialist told me that she wanted to find me a job to keep my mind busy, because she really wanted me to settle into a great job. I was stunned.” Part of creating job opportunities for people with disabilities is not simply stopping once they get one—it’s also nurturing skills and job development. Nicolett Flores had been a part-time, on-call employee with the former organization on the contract, and her employment was reviewed by a DePaul employment specialist when the nonprofit took over services in September. “I found out that I got qualified with my disability, when before I had been trying to hide it,” said Flores. She rocketed to a full-time spot as an administrative assistant and her strong performance in that role led to a promotion as an assistant team lead. Flores was ecstatic to simultaneously be recognized for promotion and to have her disability acknowledged

for the first time on the job. “I don’t have to hide what I’ve hid for the past 10 years,” she said. “To be given this opportunity—it’s a big change, for me and for all of the smart, disabled individuals that I work with.” Jim Lull is another example of a person with a disability who was underemployed before DePaul began AbilityOne services. “I’ve filled in for all different levels of pay scale and have collected all sorts of certifications over time. That’s what I call job security,” said Lull, a now fully-employed U.S. Army veteran who had worked at Fort Huachuca for seven years as only part-time employee. “These AbilityOne employees have proven that we can fill these kinds of high-skilled positions,” said Derrick. “I’d love to see more contracts like this.” Last year, DePaul Industries’ earned 99% of its revenue via its business divisions. This is, of course, noteworthy for any nonprofit organization, but is also part of DePaul’s business strategy for maximizing impact. DePaul plans to scale its success by seeking more opportunities like the administrative services project at Fort Huachuca. For more information on DePaul Industries and its social entrepreneurial work, visit H April 2012 | 23


Workplace NISH 8401 Old Courthouse Road Vienna, VA 22182

Non-Profit Organization U.S. Postage PAID Reston, VA Permit No. 84


NISH Training Calendar MAY 1

Quality Work Environment (QWE): Getting Started

Portland, OR

1, 2

Introduction to Document Conversion

Norfolk, VA

1, 2, 3, 4

Commissary Project Management

Orlando, FL

21, 22, 23

NISH National Training and Achievement Conference

Indianapolis, IN

NISH Mission

Creating employment opportunities for people with significant disabilities. NISH offers a wide range of training opportunities through the NISH Academy for Leadership, Performance & Development. For more information, to request a 2012 training calendar or to r足 egister for courses, please contact the NISH Training Team at 571/226-4660 or visit the NISH Web site at

Workplace Magazine April 2012  

Workplace magazine is published monthly by NISH, a nonprofit organization. NISH supports the AbilityOne Program to assist nonprofit agencies...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you