IFB SOLUTIONS NOW SELLING MASKS TO THE PUBLIC, EACH SALE HELPS CREATE JOB OPPORTUNITIES FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE BLIND

Mask will be sold on bscsource.com in packs of 50 for $149.49

Contact
Nicole Ducouer, IFB Solutions Director of Corporate Communications
(304) 685-2393 | nducouer@ifbsolutions.org
Dropbox link for photos and b-roll here.

WINSTON-SALEM, NC (May 14, 2020) – Local nonprofit IFB Solutions, the largest employer of people who are blind or visually impaired in the U.S., has started selling cloth face masks produced at its Winston-Salem facility to the public through its online retail store, bscsource.com. The washable, 100% cotton knit masks are available in packs of 50 for $149.49 with free shipping. Larger packs of 500 masks also are available. Each sale helps provide employment for people who are blind or visually impaired.

“Earlier this month we announced that IFB would be producing masks for the U.S. Air Force and we are excited that we are now able to expand our production to include sales to the general public,” said Silas Martin, IFB Solutions chief operating officer. “The packs of 50 are ideal for businesses and other organizations for their employees, customers and clients. And each pack sold helps support IFB’s mission of providing opportunities for people who blind or visually impaired in need of employment, training and services.”

bscsource.com offers more than 500,000 different products ranging from masks to discount office supplies, office furniture and janitorial supplies. Many of the products offered at bscsource.com are made by people who are blind or visually impaired employed by nonprofit agencies like IFB Solutions.

Twenty-two people work on IFB’s mask production line, including Cole DeLuca who first connected with IFB Solutions at age 6 when he received assistive technology through the IFB Community Low Vision Center. He participated in IFB’s SEE summer camps offered free to children who are blind and later joined IFB as an optical technician. This spring, Cole received training to work as a sewing operator on the mask production line.

“Millions are unemployed. I am blessed I got the call to do this work,” said DeLuca. “I’m very proud to be sewing masks for the U.S. Air Force as well as for the general public. It’s awesome knowing that the more masks our team makes and sells through bscsource.com helps create employment opportunities for people like me who are visually impaired.”

Dropbox, courtesy of IFB Solutions, includes:
(Note: B-roll and still images show sewing of white masks available for sale to the public)
– B-roll of employees working on IFB mask production line
– Still photo of IFB plant manager Garry Russ wearing the white IFB mask
LINK: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/1yhr7a0j3y20xid/AACLWw_GubHeyi16Vl1lxGkva?dl=0

About IFB Solutions (IFB)
IFB Solutions is a nonprofit corporation founded in 1936 that provides employment, training and services for people who are blind or visually impaired. As the largest employer of people who are blind in the United States, IFB operates manufacturing facilities in Winston-Salem, N.C., Asheville, N.C., and Little Rock, Ark., in addition to operating nearly 20 office supply stores across the country and producing mattresses. IFB produces eyewear under its Twenty200 brand at its Winston-Salem lab and operates a retail location in Winston-Salem. IFB Solutions funds employee training and services as well as community programs through grants and private donations, making possible summer camps, afterschool programs and activities for children who are blind, and Community Low Vision services through its low-vision Centers across North Carolina and in Little Rock, Ark. ifbsolutions.org

# # #

 

IFB SOLUTIONS TO MAKE 10,000 MASKS FOR U.S. AIR FORCE

Nonprofit leverages textile operations and its experienced sewing operators to ramp up production

Contact
Nicole Ducouer, IFB Solutions Director of Corporate Communications
(304) 685-2393 | nducouer@ifbsolutions.org
Dropbox link for photos and b-roll here.

WINSTON-SALEM, NC (May 4, 2020) – Local nonprofit IFB Solutions, the largest employer of people who are blind or visually impaired in the country, has started production on 10,000 masks for the U.S. Air Force at its Winston-Salem facility. IFB, which already makes a variety of apparel products for the government, including apparel, mattresses and office supplies, quickly ramped up a mask production line and employee training.

“We’ve got an amazing team of experienced sewing operators, so we were able to jump on this order within a matter of days,” said Silas Martin, IFB Solutions chief operating officer. “It’s a significant order that will keep the team busy for several weeks and even longer if we receive additional orders.”

IFB Solutions has been deemed essential to the security of the nation and a critical manufacturer for the Armed Forces by the U.S. Dept. of Defense therefore certain lines of business have remained open and operating during the coronavirus pandemic.

Twelve IFB employees work on the mask production line, including Winter Robinson, 25 years old who is visually impaired and deaf in one ear. Winter previously worked in IFB’s optical lab before being retrained to join the mask production team.

“I have family in the Navy and Army and several who have served in combat. I can’t see, so I can’t serve, but I can help out by making these masks. I love knowing I can do my part,” says Robinson. “This job gives me an opportunity to keep working, earn a paycheck and support my community.”

IFB’s mask production team will ramp up to 1,000 masks per day with capacity for more should additional orders come in. IFB is hiring experienced sewing operators to work on these masks and several other product lines. Job information can be found at www.ifbsolutions.org/careers or by calling (336) 245-5665.

IFB’s order for the Air Force masks is part of a larger agreement for up to 576,000 masks managed by fellow AbilityOne agency LCI, based in Durham, N.C. IFB, along with five other agencies, are all producing masks to fulfill the entire contract. All of the participating agencies and LCI provide employment opportunities for people who are blind or visually impaired. “IFB Solutions is incredibly excited to partner with another not-for-profit agency like LCI on this Air Force contract,” says Martin. “This opportunity provides employment for people who are blind at a time when unemployment is sweeping the nation. We’re also proud of this work because it keeps our troops safe.”

“When the Air Force reached out to us about supplying masks for the bases, we were honored to answer the call,” said DuWayne Gilbertson, vice president, business development at LCI. “As our country navigates its way through unchartered territory in the face of COVID-19, we feel it’s extremely important to help protect those who protect us and keep us safe every day.”

Mask production at IFB is now underway and LCI expects to make its first shipment to the U.S. Air Force by mid-May.

Dropbox, courtesy of IFB Solutions, includes:
– B-roll of employees working on IFB mask production line
– Still photos of employees, including Winter Robinson, working on IFB mask production line
LINK: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/arx84adx04zjr6q/AAAwq9EdgK_eQD-pLVFqgnQoa?dl=0

About IFB Solutions (IFB)
IFB Solutions is a nonprofit corporation founded in 1936 that provides employment, training and services for people who are blind or visually impaired. As the largest employer of people who are blind in the United States, IFB operates manufacturing facilities in Winston-Salem, N.C., Asheville, N.C., and Little Rock, Ark., in addition to operating nearly 20 office supply stores across the country and producing mattresses. IFB produces eyewear under its Twenty200 brand at its Winston-Salem lab and operates a retail location in Winston-Salem. IFB Solutions funds employee training and services as well as community programs through grants and private donations, making possible summer camps, afterschool programs and activities for children who are blind, and Community Low Vision services through its low-vision Centers across North Carolina and in Little Rock, Ark. ifbsolutions.org

# # #

 

The Winston-Salem Foundation awards IFB Solutions with an Adaptation Grant

The Winston-Salem Foundation awarded IFB Solutions with an Adaptation Grant for $5,000 in April 2020. This specific grant covers expenses related to technology, equipment, cleaning products and sanitizers that IFB Solutions needed to purchase so our employees could work remotely or feel safer working at IFB Solution due to COVID-19.

Learn more about The Winston-Salem Foundation’s grants in response to COVID-19, including the Adaptation Grant, here.

High Point Community Foundation awards IFB Solutions with grant for Focus on Literacy

The High Point Community Foundation awarded IFB Solutions with a $6,785 grant in November 2019 for Focus on Literacy through the Mobile Vision Center Program. These funds will help IFB Solutions serve K-12 students who have unique low vision needs in the High Point area.

Learn more about the High Point Community Foundation here. We are grateful for their support!

IFB Solutions President & CEO David Horton Responds to U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit Decision

IFB President & CEO David Horton Responds to U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit Decision (10/17/18)

Contact
Nicole Ducouer, IFB Solutions Director of Corporate Communications
336-245-5615 | nducouer@ifbsolutions.org

Background
Since 2016, IFB Solutions has been involved in litigation alongside the U.S. Government to protect jobs for people who are blind. The case centers around whether veteran-owned small businesses should receive priority for contracts with the Department of Veterans Affairs over AbilityOne nonprofits like IFB Solutions who employ people who are blind. Today, we received a ruling on our appeal filed in Federal Claims court that upheld a lower court decision to rule in favor of veteran-owned small businesses.

IFB Solutions President & CEO David Horton Statement
IFB Solutions remains 100% committed to our mission of creating life-changing jobs and opportunities for people who are blind.

As we have said before, we believe strongly in protecting jobs for people who are blind and we will fight this decision all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary. 

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month — a time when we focus on growing awareness of the extraordinary employment challenges faced by people who are blind. Seventy percent of working-age adults are not employed, and it is paramount that AbilityOne agencies like IFB Solutions continue our work as defined by the Javits-Wagner-O’Day Act of 1938 with the specific intent of creating employment opportunities for those who are blind or with severe disabilities.

Today’s court decision underscores the importance and absolute necessity of awareness and advocacy on behalf of people who are blind seeking the chance to have a job of their choice. 

Right now, we are weighing our options to decide our next steps.

Dan Kelly: Life-changing experiences for the blind

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), an opportunity to highlight the challenges of finding of job for people with disabilities. If you are blind, as I am, the unemployment rate is shockingly high — 70 percent. Imagine: Seven of every 10 persons who are blind cannot find a job.

In my case, I’ve been blind since childhood. I share a hereditary eye disease with my grandfather, father and now my young son. Both my grandfather and my father worked, and they instilled in me their same drive to pursue an education, build a career and raise a family. In many respects, I was fortunate to have their genes, because I never thought about what wasn’t possible. My focus was always on what I could accomplish.

Today, I am chief operating officer at IFB Solutions, previously known as Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind. We are the largest employer of people who are blind in the country, with a mission that impacts even more people through our community programs and services available to the public.

Our new name — IFB Solutions — suits our organization perfectly as we strive to create innovative solutions for people who are blind or visually impaired. We offer employment opportunities in our three manufacturing facilities, in our optical lab and at dozens of customer locations across the United States. We’re also finding jobs for people that enable them to work from home — a tremendous opportunity for people without access to transportation.

Throughout my career, I’ve been focused on creating opportunities for people who are blind. It started in high school when I responded to a job posting with a local human resources and recruiting firm. After graduating from college, I took a full-time position with that same company before joining National Industries for the Blind in 2001, where I had an opportunity to focus on employment for people with vision challenges. After earning my MBA from George Mason University, I moved to the Triad to join Greensboro Industries of the Blind before coming to my current workplace in 2007.

Like me, some of our employees at IFB Solutions come with work experience, but for the majority, we are their first job and their first opportunity to experience personal and financial independence since losing their sight. We build on this first job by providing additional solutions — training and services — to help our employees acquire new skills and pursue outside interests.