Naval Supply Systems Command Fleet Logistics Center Norfolk's Super Servmart hosted local high school students July 25 to tour the store and gain a better perspective of job opportunities for the visually disabled.
The tour was part of the Virginia Department for the Blind & Vision Impaired program that assists Virginians who are blind, vision impaired or deafblind develop the skills, confidence and positive attitude needed to achieve their desired levels of employment, education, and personal independence.
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MANCON Assistant Program Manager Valerie Harrell (left) answers a student's question about a hydration backpack during a visit to Super Servmart by local visually disabled students. They were there for an orientation visit to learn about employment opportunities.
"As part of their program, they want to spotlight successful people with visual impairments," said NAVSUP FLC Norfolk Management and Program Analyst Fay Gregory. "They bring students to Super Servmart to see our Virginia Industries for the Blind (VIB) employees and to see the opportunities offered here."
When the students arrived at Super Servmart, they were escorted to the office of MANCON by Program Manager Harry Twigger. He and MANCON Assistant Program Manager Valerie Harrell welcomed the students and presented an overview of the store, describing some of the items offered there by 22 vendors.
"You can do whatever you want to do," Twigger told the students. "There are lots of companies that work with VIB employees. We are proud of all of them."
Several of the current Super Servmart VIB employees were then introduced to the students. Each of them described their duties at Super Servmart and encouraged the students to never let their visual impairment interfere with their pursuit of employment. The current VIB employees there work as cashiers, computer and telephone technicians, and security. They also perform various aspects of customer service.
Harrell even pointed out that the VIB cashiers are more accurate than some of the sighted cashiers. She explained that cashiers have to be careful to separate items by vendor when completing an order to make sure each item purchased is credited to the proper vendor.
The students were then given a tour of the Super Servmart. They were surprised to see such a wide variety of items available. One of the students was especially surprised to see hydration backpacks on display.
During the tour, Twigger and Harrell both pointed out that a large portion of the Super Servmart is filled with items from companies who employ mostly employees with disabilities, such as Skilcraft and the various Lighthouses for the Blind.
It was a lot of information to absorb in a short period of time, but the students definitely appreciated their trip to Super Servmart.
"To have an opportunity like this is so important for them," said Virginia Department for the Blind & Vision Impaired Vocational Counselor Ronica Henry. "Meeting the VIB employees here shows them first-hand there are so many possibilities available to them."
By Jim Kohler, NAVSUP FLC Norfolk Office of Corporate Communications