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Craig Ellis, an employee of the East Texas Lighthouse for the Blind, was awarded the 2016 Artie Lee Hinds Award at TIBH’s ninth annual banquet on Sept. 21, 2016. The award—named for lifelong humanitarian and TIBH founder/chairman emeritus, Artie Lee Hinds—honors an outstanding community rehabilitation program (CRP) employee for his or her leadership, dedicated service and commitment to excellence through the State Use WorksWonders Program.
“Receiving the Artie Lee Hinds Award at the dinner was a fantastic honor,” Ellis said. “Through the State Use Program and TIBH, I have been able to regain the confidence and self-worth that I had lost along with my vision.”
Ellis plays an integral role within the company—taking ownership of the products and displaying exceptional interdepartmental communication. He has worked for the East Texas Lighthouse since 2011, where he took over coordinating the purchase requests and shipping of steel-toe work boots sold through the State Use Program before he was promoted to his current position of employment services specialist.
“Craig’s business knowledge and his practical experience in the business world is incredibly important,” Megan Doss, employment specialist for the East Texas Lighthouse for the Blind, said. “I think one of the coolest, most unique things about this employment services program, and the fact that we are developing it, is that both of us are legally blind.”
“I knew I wanted to hire him in five minutes,” Lee Tillson, vice president of operations for the East Texas Lighthouse, said. “He had the necessary skills and I knew, especially with trying to make the changes with the boot program and reduce lead-time and lower delivery costs, that Craig would be the guy for us.”
In that position, Ellis demonstrated leadership in areas of product management and improving distribution services.
“Four and half years ago, when I got here, there was a need to have a stocking program for the boots to improve our turn around on orders to TIBH and [the Texas Department of Transportation],” Ellis said. “We’ve gone from 45 days, down to less than two days’ turn around on our boot orders to the state.”
Ellis has become a valued team member and provides support to coworkers going through similar situations.
“My job here is to develop partnerships with employers in the local community—and also to work with our clients to find meaningful employment for those blind and vision impaired people,” Ellis said. “I love the fact that in my position, working at the Lighthouse, I can be an example to other blind and visually impaired people who have their doubts and have their concerns about what they are capable of. You know, so I can tell them if I can do it, you can do it—let me show you how.”
Ellis is also a very talented and passionate acapella singer—and is a member of the Double Take acapella group.
“I love to sing, and four part harmony is addictive,” Ellis said. “In my spare time, when I’m not working at client services, music is my passion.”
Congratulations to Craig Ellis and the other 2016 Artie Lee Hinds Award nominees for their exceptional talent, hard work and commitment to excellence.
TIBH Industries, Inc. hosted its 28th Annual Products and Services Expo in Austin on Sept. 22, 2016, following the previous evening’s ninth annual Artie Lee Hinds Award Dinner. The expo is held each year to raise awareness of the State Use WorksWonders program, a state initiative that provides employment opportunities for Texans with disabilities while also benefitting state taxpayers and agency customers.
Prior to the expo, approximately 100 individuals attended the State Use Program Overview and Training meeting. This meeting was provided as training for State Use Program customers to promote the benefits of utilizing the program—as well as the methods in which to access the program. Those in attendance gained a better understanding of the WorksWonders program and how to maximize their benefits through the program.
This year, more than 25 community rehabilitation programs (CRPs) showcased the products and services they offer, providing state employees a chance to ask questions, provide feedback and see product samples first-hand. The expo also allows attendees to stay current on the various products and services offered.
“At the expo, we are able to see all the new supplies,” Falan Ford, training administrator at the Texas Department of Public Safety, said. “We are able to speak with the vendors and ask questions about their products before putting in our orders.”
“Purchasers are able to get a better understanding of the services provided,” Lucy Tijerina, vocational coordinator for the Department of Aging and Disability Services, said. “It is a great way to meet people and to see and touch the products offered in the catalog. We bounce ideas around and hear what the purchasers’ needs are. This is our 24th year at the expo, and we look forward to it every year.”
The expo also serves as a great opportunity for CRPs and customers to network and develop relationships—as well as brainstorm new ideas. Additionally, customers enjoy being able to talk to their CRP representatives face-to-face at the expo.
“For us, it is an opportunity to listen to customers and brainstorm new product ideas,” Vikki Kezar, a general manager for Tex-Spice, said.
Robert Sale, workforce developer for the Behavioral Center of Nueces County and first-time CRP presenter at the expo, expressed a similar sentiment.
“This is our first expo, and we felt like it was beneficial for us to come and are amazed with the other products and services offered,” Sale said. “We appreciate the way in which TIBH advocates for individuals with disabilities—we believe in the program.”
- ABG Fulfillment
- Beacon Lighthouse, Inc.
- Camino Real Community Center
- Corpus Christi State Supported Living Center/Woods, Etc.
- Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind
- East Texas Lighthouse for the Blind/Horizon Industries
- Enterprise Professional Services, Inc.
- EXPANCO, Inc.
- Goodwill Industries of Central Texas
- Goodwill Industries of East Texas
- Help the World Foundation
- Lighthouse for the Blind of Fort Worth
- Peak Performers
- Rising Star Resource Development Corp.
- San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind
- South Texas Lighthouse for the Blind
- Southeast Vocational Alliance
- St. Dominic of Silos dba Daniel Pest Control and Professional Services
- Star Care Specialty Health Systems
- Texas Correctional Industries
- TIBH Industries, Inc. (Central Store)
- Travis Association for the Blind
- VRC Industries
- West Texas Lighthouse for the Blind
- Office and school supplies
- Furniture items
- Medical supplies
- Automotive supplies
- Bed and bath supplies
- Food supplies
- Storage supplies
- Janitorial supplies
- Safety supplies
- Landscape services
- Parks and grounds maintenance
- Litter pick-up
- Vehicle washing
- Window cleaning
- Receptionist services
- Pest control services
- Recycling services
Temporary services included:
- Accounting and clerical support
- Engineering information
- Technology data entry
On Sept. 21, 2016, TIBH hosted its ninth annual Artie Lee Hinds Award Dinner in Austin. Among its 400 attendees, there were 50 award nominees, their family and friends, community rehabilitation program (CRP) representatives, customers and TIBH board members, among others. Those in attendance recognized TIBH, its CRPs and their employees for their contributions to the Texas State Use WorksWonders Program.
This year, veteran TV journalist, Judy Maggio, emceed the program alongside TIBH President and chief executive officer, Fred Weber, Jr. Maggio spent three decades as the lead news anchor and managing editor at various TV stations in Austin, Texas.
Attendees were treated to a gripping and inspirational speech from keynote speaker Rocky Bleier. Bleier, a Vietnam veteran and subsequent four-time Super Bowl champion, spoke about his time on the football fields of America and on the battlefields of Vietnam. His story of hope and overcoming adversities—as well as how ordinary people can become extraordinary achievers—resonated with everyone in the audience, particularly the award nominees.
Following Bleier’s speech, which included an impressive display of his four Super Bowl rings on one hand, TIBH recognized the Top 10 customers who purchase products, services and temporary employment services through the WorksWonders program. The Top 10 customers are comprised of multiple state, city, and county agencies and organizations. Without the support of these agencies, TIBH would not be able to provide jobs for thousands of people with disabilities statewide.
TIBH then recognized the individuals who have gone above and beyond to ensure the success of the State Use Program, as well as those it serves, before awarding the 2016 Spirit of State Use Award to Patricia Engleman, Glenn Hagler and state Representative Elliot Naishtat for having played a key role in making the State Use Program the success that it is today.
Beginning her career at the East Texas Lighthouse for the Blind in Tyler, Texas, Engleman worked her way through the Lighthouse and eventually joined TIBH. Recently retired, she was recognized for her positive and upbeat attitude, as well as her commitment to helping Texans with disabilities through her position.
Hagler, the director of the general services divisions with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), has been an instrumental supporter of the employment of individuals with disabilities and has played a tremendous role in the growth of the State Use Program—helping to make TxDOT TIBH’s largest purchaser. He is always willing and available to lend a hand, and he is an endless supporter of the WorksWonder program.
As the vice chair of the Public Health Committee and a member of the Human Services Committee, state Rep. Naishtat worked to pass a number of bills that support people with disabilities and has been working with the State Use Program for the past 15 years. Recently, Rep. Naishtat announced his plans to retire, and TIBH will sorely miss his dedication and commitment to the pursuit of meaningful employment for all Texans with disabilities.
Attendees also had the opportunity to see three videos showcasing standout CRP employees—the winner of the “Most Inspirational Employee” award, Steven DeLeon (Behavioral Health Center of Nueces County); the “Most Motivational Employee,” Glenn Bryant (Goodwill Industries of East Texas); and the overall winner of the 2016 Artie Lee Hinds Award, Craig Ellis (East Texas Lighthouse for the Blind).
Ellis was recognized for his optimism and desire to overcome his disabilities after losing his sight eight years ago. Ellis began his career with the East Texas Lighthouse coordinating the purchase requests and shipping of steel-toe work boots sold through the State Use Program before being promoted to his current position of employment services specialist. Following the presentation of his award, Ellis was surprised and joined on stage by his acapella group, Double Take, for a performance of “Riding the Chariot to Reach the Sky,” after which they closed the night’s festivities with their rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner.”
Thank you to all who attended this year’s Artie Lee Hinds Award dinner and made it a success. We look forward to seeing everyone again next year!
Jacob Diaz, an employee of E.Q.U.I.P. Enterprises and a receptionist at the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) office in Laredo, was awarded the 2015 Artie Lee Hinds Award at TIBH’s eighth annual banquet on Sept. 23, 2015. The award—named for lifelong humanitarian and TIBH founder/chairman emeritus, Artie Lee Hinds—honors an outstanding community rehabilitation program (CRP) employee for his or her commitment, hard work and job dedication through the State Use Program.
“Jacob is the first one to work everyday,” Jeanette Ramos, area manager at DARS Laredo, said. “He has a passion for helping people, and he just has such a high work ethic.”
Diaz plays an integral role within the office. His position requires a variety of administrative skills, including making copies and faxing, and he is the first point of contact for all consumers who walk through the door.
“It was breaking new ground for E.Q.U.I.P. Enterprises to have him in this position because it is a little bit of a higher technical position, and he’s done tremendously,” Mike Stevens, vice president of operations at E.Q.U.I.P. Enterprises, said.
“Having Jacob as one of our employees has helped our mission to continue to move forward by looking into more ways that we can employ people in jobs that require a little bit more skill and that pay better,” Raul Tintori, CEO of E.Q.U.I.P. Enterprises, said.
“Anything they need help with, I try to do the best I can to help them the way I know how,” Diaz said. “I was a consumer before, so I know how to relate to each and every person who walks through this door.”
Diaz hasn’t just impressed his coworkers—he has also made his parents proud with all the he has accomplished at work.
“My son is a survivor,” Gracie Diaz, Jacob’s mother, said. “He was born a preemie at 26 weeks old, and they told me the chance of him surviving was minimal. Jacob was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and had many obstacles to overcome. He has proven them wrong. He’s 29 years old, and I don’t have to worry about him anymore. He has a job, and he’s good at it.”
Diaz believes this job has helped him to understand the importance of family and passing down the knowledge he has learned.
“This job is a blessing for me. I am able to coach my brother’s basketball team on the weekend, and it fulfills me and helps to teach these kids what I know—not only about basketball, but about life,” Diaz said. “That’s very important to me that I’m helping these kids. My family is very important because my family is my backbone. They’re the ones who support me. Without my family, I wouldn’t be here today.”
Jacob’s positive influence is felt throughout the DARS Laredo office, and he has made his coworkers proud.
“He taught me to remove the D-I-S from disability,” Sally Reyes, management support specialist at DARS Laredo, said. “He proved that he was able, and that he had the ability to get the job done and carry out his duties as a receptionist.”
Congratulations to Jacob Diaz and the other Artie Lee Hinds Award nominees for their commitment to excellence and hard work in 2015!
TIBH Industries, Inc. hosted the 27th annual Products and Services Expo in Austin on Sept. 24, 2015, following the previous evening’s eighth annual Artie Lee Hinds Award dinner. The expo is designed to raise awareness of the State Use WorksWonders Program, a state initiative that helps employ Texans with disabilities while benefitting state taxpayers and agency customers.
More than 25 community rehabilitation programs (CRPs) presented their products and services, as well as demonstrated how products and services work, answered questions and provided samples for the more than 600 customers and guests in attendance.
Additionally, this year, a State Use Coordinator seminar and training program was held outside of the expo, proving successful with attendees.
“The training program I attended this morning was very helpful, especially with the Senate bill and its changes,” Gwendolyn Cuba, buyer III/HUB assistant at University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler, said. “This is my first time here, and it is really wonderful. We have a lot of ideas of different products we can start using.”
More importantly the expo was a place where the CRPs and customers could come together to interact and create new opportunities.
“I come to the expo to network with vendors and see if there are any new products,” Vincent Houston, director of administrative services for the Secretary of State, said.
Patti Drews, a contract specialist with the Texas Department of State Health Services, agrees with Houston. “I love coming to the expo because you see for yourself and hear about the items and services that allow all people to have a job.”
The expo allows not only potential customers and CRPs or vendors to connect, but also for vendors to meet and network with other vendors for potential partnerships.
“It is really great to come to the expo because CRPs can network with each other. We don’t need to be in competition, we need help each other,” Tereva Clawson, a vice president of sales for EXPANCO and expo attendee for more than 20 years, said. “Some people you have worked with so much and feel like you have known forever, but may be meeting for the first time at the expo.”
TIBH hosted its eighth annual Artie Lee Hinds Award dinner on Sept. 23, 2015 in Austin. Almost 400 attendees—consisting of 43 award nominees, their family and friends, CRP representatives, customers and TIBH board members, among others—recognized TIBH, its CRPs and their employees for their contributions to the Texas State Use Program.
This year, attendees were treated to a powerful and inspirational speech from keynote speaker and Boston Marathon bombing survivor, Rebekah Gregory. Gregory, who lost her leg in the bombing and spent more than a year undergoing painful surgeries, spoke to the nominees about not letting their disability define them or stop them from achieving their dreams. Gregory’s moving speech and motivating words garnered many rounds of applause, and she was met with a standing ovation.
Following Gregory’s tale of her journey from victim to survivor, TIBH president and chief executive officer, Fred Weber, Jr., recognized the Top 10 customers who purchase products, services and temporary employment services through the State Use WorksWonders Program. The Top 10 customers are comprised of city, county and state agencies and organizations. The continued support of these devoted customers is instrumental in enabling the State Use Program to grow each year.
TIBH Board of Directors chairman and president of The Lighthouse of Houston, Gibson DuTerroil, recognized and honored the Texas Council on Purchasing from People with Disabilities (TCPPD), which had been operating as the program’s oversight body since 1978. Due to the adoption of Senate Bill 212, oversight duties for the State Use Program were recently transferred from the TCPPD to the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). DuTerroil and TIBH staff presented TCPPD members with awards in recognition of the support and leadership they provided the program throughout their time in an administrative role—and for the role they played in making the program the success that it is today.
This year, Artie Lee Hinds’ daughter and son-in-law, Denise and Bruce Cartwright, attended the dinner on her behalf. TIBH shared a video of Artie Lee Hinds from the second annual Artie Lee Hinds Award Dinner, in which she relayed her sincere gratitude to the nominees and CRPs for their hard work. The video served as a reminder to everyone in attendance of the growth and progress that occur through dedicated service and commitment, and it was an especially powerful message as TIBH looks forward to a new chapter in the State Use Program with TWC.
Attendees also had the opportunity to see three videos showcasing standout CRP employees—the winner of the “Most Motivational Employee” award, Connie Milligan (Goodwill Industries of Central Texas); the winner of the “Most Inspirational Employee” award, Betty Ward (Travis Association for the Blind); and the overall winner of the 2015 Artie Lee Hinds Award, Jacob Diaz (E.Q.U.I.P. Enterprises, Inc.).
Diaz was recognized for his enthusiasm and passion for his job as a receptionist at the Laredo Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services office. Milligan was named “Most Motivational” for her hard work and leadership with Goodwill’s contract with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, and Ward was named “Most Inspirational” for her commitment and dedication, particularly in the skin care department, at the Travis Association for the Blind.
Thank you to all who attended this year’s Artie Lee Hinds Award dinner. We look forward to seeing everyone again next year.
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