Helen Keller once said, “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence."
Two Alabama Industries for the Blind (AIB) employees were recently honored at the state level with two distinct achievement awards, providing hope and confidence to not only their peers but to everyone else who reads their story. Their names have now been included in the national pool of applicants with announcements slated for Fall 2012.
Milton J. Samuelson Career Achievement Award
Each year, the National Industries for the Blind (NIB) sponsors a competition for the Blind Production Employee of the Year and the Blind Professional Employee of the Year. Each NIB-affiliated agency may conduct its own selection process and submit its nominations for the national competition.
Employees are selected competitively for these awards based on superior achievement in a given year or for total superior performance over time. Nominees are judged on performance to their agency, the profession and the community. Winners are submitted for competition with winners from other NIB-associated agencies for the national awards of the same names.
The Milton J. Samuelson Career Achievement Award honors a person who is legally-blind and currently employed at AIB above the direct labor level and below the top management level or a legally-blind person who has utilized the training and experience gained to seek and achieve outside competitive employment. This award was named after the late Milton J. Samuelson, a former director of NIB and leader in upward mobility and placement programs for people who are blind.
Donna Moore has been legally-blind since age 16 and holds an accounting degree from the University of Alabama-Huntsville. According to AIB Executive Director Billy Sparkman, Moore was employed by AIB in 2003 as an AIDB Marshall Base Supply Center store clerk, has worked very hard to please a demanding customer base (rocket scientists!) filling web orders and bringing baked goods to share with customers.
Moore’s customer-first service soon resulted in a move to the AIB Redstone Base Supply Center where she worked as a store clerk until 2010 when AIB opened a satellite supply room for the Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC) on Redstone Arsenal and Moore took on the challenge of being the only employee. Despite multiple responsibilities as store clerk, warehouse clerk and purchasing technician, Moore’s optimism continued to outshine even her culinary skills.
“Donna was recently offered a position with Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services near her home in Decatur and while we celebrate with her in this great upward mobility opportunity, we are saddened to lose her,” notes Sparkman.
Overwhelmed by the honor, Donna expressed her appreciation, “…I didn’t expect all of this. It is way more than I thought it would be.”
The Peter J. Salmon Award
If ‘optimism’ describes Donna More, then ‘faith’ describes Myra Fields, recipient of the Dr. Peter J Salmon Award.
Dr. Peter J. Salmon Award was an advocate for the blind, instrumental in the passage of the Wagner-O’Day act in 1938, and who served on NIB’s board of directors. Established in 1968, the Dr. Peter J. Salmon Award is presented to a legally-blind person who is currently employed by AIB in a direct labor operation.
Legally-blind since birth, Fields is an Alabama School for the Blind (ASB)
graduate. She began her working career within AIB July 9, 1979 – a career spanning 32 years. She has been a successful production worker in just about every AIB department from sewn products to paper production to brush production to broom production. Even within AIB’s sewn products plant, Fields has been extremely versatile in using her skills to produce mattress covers, suspenders, NBC bags, JSLIST bags, flyer’s kit bags and maintenance cases.
“It stands as a testament to her skills and productivity that she has been able to be cross-functional in so many of the AIB departments,” notes Sparkman. “If you talk to her supervisors and co-workers you will hear things like: ‘Myra is just a good person,’ ‘She is a great asset to any department,’ ‘She is great with other people,’ ‘She really does a good job in helping to train people,’ ‘She is a very good worker with excellent attendance and she doesn’t mind moving from operation to operation – wherever she is needed because she knows that we have customers that need these products,’ and last but not least, ‘Myra always brings a good attitude to the workplace.’”
Fields serves on the AIB Communications Committee and is viewed as a role model by her fellow workers.
“I like to be an encourager and to keep people around me,” she states. “I try to tell people how important their jobs are and to take them seriously because some people don’t have a job.”
Both women received AIB certificates from AIDB Vice President of Adult Programs Dr. John Mascia; city proclamations from Talladega Mayor Larry Barton and City Manager Brian Muenger; and Senate resolutions from Senator Jerry Fielding, who also presented each with a commendation from Alabama Governor Robert Bentley. Sparkman also presented both honorees with a letter from NIB and a scrapbook filled with memories from the years of their time at AIB.
“I want to first thank my Heavenly Father,” Fields said. “I consider this job as a way of independence, and I really enjoy everybody I work with.”