Local

August 17, 2012

Program enables disabled to serve on base

Tags:
Story and photo by Airman 1st Class GRACE LEE
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Loraine Ayres, Focus Works customer service representative, works on her computer using a closed caption television system at Focus Works on Luke Air Force Base. The CCTV allows Ayres to magnify the image on the screen to better identify the information she is processing.

With the economy struggling, it’s competitive enough for those without a disability to find a job. Fortunately, there is a program available that helps nonprofit organizations hire disabled workers.

The AbilityOne Program helps nearly 48,000 Americans who are blind or have other disabilities to not only find employment but lead more productive and independent lives, according to the Arizona Department of Economic Security website, azdes.gov.

At Luke Air Force Base, there are two agencies that fall under the AbilityOne Program: Arizona Industries for the Blind and The Centers for Habilitation.

The agency AIB, known as Focus Works here, employs workers whose tasks range from stocking shelves, keeping track of inventory and market research to providing Airmen the necessary items needed prior to a deployment.

“Fifty percent of our employees in the store are legally blind,” said Carlos Paraskevas, AIB community relations. “In total, 75 percent of the AIB workforce are blind or visually impaired.”

“Most people who walk through the doors don’t even know the employees are blind until they look at their monitor and see that the cursor is big,” said Bernie Richardson, Focus Works store manager. “I know that when not working they still enjoy activities such as kayaking, bike riding, softball, hiking and rock climbing.”

Richardson said that though the employees are blind, it doesn’t mean they all have the same level of blindness.

“The vision of some is cloudy, some don’t have peripheral vision, they are all different,” he said. “For that reason, the state of Arizona provides a vocational rehab counselor whose job is to come in and see what adaptive technology would apply to the individual.”

Depending on the individual’s needs, the technology differs. Some have a closed caption television system which magnifies the image on the screen, while others have hand-held magnifiers or glasses that are custom made to the person, Richardson said.

Focus Works puts a big emphasis on helping their employees be independent, but their main mission is to help the wing.

“We support the wing and the people on base by providing equipment and supplies that are needed no matter what time of day it is,” Richardson said.

Similar to how AIB operates, TCH also employs those with disabilities.

“We have a team of 27 janitors who have disabilities that range from being deaf, sight impaired, autistic, to having cerebral palsy,” said Christina Dominguez, TCH project manager.

According to Dominguez they work seven days a week and have three shifts a day.

“We service approximately 160 of the buildings at Luke, which is almost 500,000 square feet,” she said.

Even though the employees have a disability, it doesn’t stop them from doing what they are tasked to do.

“When the employees are first hired, we take the time to find out what their disability is and how we can help them succeed while at the same time still getting what we need done,” she said. “To do this, we spend a lot of time training them and meeting with them one-on-one. I like to ask them how they’re doing on a daily basis.”

For Dominguez, the employees aren’t just people who help keep the base clean, but they are people who truly make a difference by bringing a smile to someone’s face.

“Our employees come to work cheerful and happy,” she said. “And it’s great when I get a call from someone saying how helpful and friendly they are, since our sole mission is to not only employ people with disabilities but also to provide quality service to the base. No matter the job, we want to make sure it is top quality.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Decking the halls …

Staff Sgt. Timothy Boyer Andrea Mathis, 56th Force Support Squadron Fighter Country Inn accounting clerk, decorates a Christmas tree Dec. 4 in the lobby at the Fighter Country Inn at Luke Air Force Base. Base lodging is available to active-duty service members, retirees and dependents on a space-available basis. For more information, call 623-856-3941.
 
 

News Briefs December 12, 2014

Kachina Gate closure The Kachina Gate will be closed to inbound traffic through Dec. 19 for gas valve repair. Outbound traffic will not be affected. For more information, call 623-856-7051. Tax season volunteers The 2015 tax center is looking for one volunteer to serve as site coordinator and volunteers to serve during the 2015 tax...
 
 
Airman 
PEDRO MOTA

Thunderbolts lend helping hand to veterans in need

AirmanPEDRO MOTA Airmen from the 56th Comptroller Squadron help serve a holiday meal to the homeless Dec. 5 at the Central Arizona Shelter Services. The money was donated by the Veterans Administration in an effort to feed home...
 

 
tax-return-image

Become a VITA Volunteer

Courtesy photo Volunteers Are Needed for the Upcoming Tax Season. No prior tax experience required and FREE training is provided. Luke Air Force Base is looking for volunteers to support the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance prog...
 
 
141204-F-HT977-018

Cookies on the move

Lisa Sloane, left, wife of Col. Jeremy Sloane, 56th Fighter Wing vice commander, instructs volunteers on how to package cookies during the cookie drive Dec. 4. The cookie drive is held in early December to bring a little homine...
 
 

Justice Report

The following is a list of Article 15s issued at Luke Air Force Base for October and November. 56th Maintenance Group • A staff sergeant received an Article 15 for wrongful use of a controlled substance. The member received a reduction to the rank of senior airman, forfeiture of $1,213 pay per month for two...
 




One Comment


  1. Lisa Kraemer

    I am the newest co-worker over at Luke BSC and it is such a priviledge to work here. My boss Bernard Richardson is friendly and down to earth and treats us like any other sighted employee. Loraine, Shannon, Rick and Jerry and I are all visually challenged but we get the job done and are proud to serve our military. Our store is well known for our friendly customer service because a smile doesn’t require much no matter your disablility or circumstance. Bill, Paul, Sheryl and Allen help make our store function as well as it does. It’s a great balance to join us together and make us strive to be all we can for our servicemen and women here at Luke and abroad.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin