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Despite cuts, Hickam retains NISH contract

HICKAM AFB, HI -- Hickam's grounds maintenance contract with the National Institute for the Severely Handicapped was recently renegotiated, allowing a continued service to the base community, as well as a benefit to program employees. 

This contract will ensure that base athletic fields remain cut, watered, hedged, lined and ready for play, while also employing numerous special-needs workers, according to 1st Lt. Stephanie Dye, Flight Chief, 15th Contracting Squadron. 

"The fiscal environment we are in right now has forced us to make tough decisions, but luckily we could find a happy medium with this contract," said Col. Jeff Stephenson, 15th Airlift vice commander. 

Col. JJ Torres, 15th Airlift commander, agreed, noting "It's a win-win situation."
The NISH Web site describes the organization's efforts as a means of providing "employment opportunities for people with severe disabilities by securing Federal contracts through the Javits-Wagner-O'Day (JWOD) Program." 

Contracts such as these give individuals the opportunity to lead more independent lives -- enabling them to actively participate in the workforce and society, according to Lieutenant Dye. 

The JWOD Program, which employs more than 45,000 individuals nationwide, is the largest single source of employment for people who are blind or have other severe disabilities in the United States. 

There are more than 600 participating nonprofit organizations involved in the program to employ these individuals and provide goods and services to a wide variety of Federal agencies. 

"Everyone we have out here is a part of Team Hickam," said Colonel Stephenson. "And with the support of this contract, we are proud to be able to live up to the status of the Pearl of the Pacific."