The Centers for Habilitation is a non-profit organization dedicated to recruiting and helping create employment opportunities for individuals with developmental and physical disabilities.
In celebration of its 20 years in partnership with D-M, TCH held a ceremony at the Desert Dining Inn here, Aug. 19.
In attendance were local civilian and base leadership, including Col. Kevin Blanchard, 355th Fighter Wing commander, and Congressman Ron Barber as the guest speaker.
“Hiring disabled employees is good for businesses and the right thing to do as a society,” Barber said. “I welcome the opportunity to support employers who are finding meaningful jobs for some of the 730,000 disabled residents of Arizona.”
Since 1993, TCH has employed more than 450 workers at D-M. Currently, 80 TCH employees prepare and serve food at the Desert Dining Inn and Roadrunner Kitchen on base.
“We actively recruit individuals with developmental disabilities, or really any kind of disability, from the local schools,” said Sean O’Daniel, TCH’s D-M project manager. “We hold job fairs to recruit individuals with disabilities who struggle to find employment.”
Disabled workers aren’t just handed jobs; in fact, TCH employs two job coaches to help with the TCH staff.
“Job coaches work with them from the time we pick them up at the gate to the time they leave,” O’Daniel said. “They teach them everything from how to slide a card in a time clock to how to wear the uniform.”
Job coaches also help employees work through training plans to accomplish goals in their job performance. Individuals spend approximately 30 days in training, and once trained at an acceptable level they can be mainstreamed out to other locations. Some individuals work their way up to job coach and other supervisory positions.
“We are giving individuals with disabilities an opportunity that they may not get in their communities,” said Yvette Smith, TCH vice president for Ability One contracts. “They are now able to do the things and enjoy the comforts of life that we have, including making friends.”
The TCH employees work diligently to improve the quality of life for the Airmen as well as for themselves.
“I’ve never worked with disabled people before,” said Airman 1st Class Matthew Lillegard, 355th Force Support Squadron storeroom clerk. “It’s been a very enjoyable and rewarding experience.”
Lillegard says it has given him even more respect for the disabled.
Operating under Ability One, the largest single source of employment for people who have significant disabilities throughout the U.S., TCH provides food services at D-M; base-wide custodial and ground maintenance at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz. and Camp Billy Machen, Calif.; base-wide custodial maintenance at Luke AFB, Ariz. and total facility management services at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., to include security.
“There is nothing more honorable than serving the military,” Smith said. “That’s the big piece for them. It’s a job that they respect to perform.”
For more information about TCH, visit www.tch-az.com or call