WINSTON-SALEM, NC (Apr. 25, 2018) – IFB Solutions recently honored its employees, volunteers and vendors for their commitment to helping IFB provide jobs, training and services for people who are blind or visually impaired. IFB Solutions, a nonprofit corporation with manufacturing facilities in Winston-Salem, Asheville and Little Rock, Ark., is the nation’s largest employer of people who are blind or visually impaired, and provides a broad range of services, including its Community Low Vision Centers, Tracy’s Little Red Schoolhouse, and SEE after-school and summer camps.

Everett “EJ” Ford of Asheville was named the overall IFB Solutions Employee of the Year. A native of Kansas, EJ started at IFB’s facility in Winston-Salem in 2011 before transferring to Asheville the following year. Born blind, EJ never let his lack of sight keep him from pursuing his interests from sports to music to social media. He’s been instrumental in helping IFB convert several jobs previously limited to sighted employees into positions for people who are blind by developing new processes and training. He’s also served as chair of Asheville’s Safety Team. Outside of work, EJ is past president of the Asheville Blind Bowling League, volunteers with IFB’s SEE summer camps for children who are blind or visually impaired and hosts a YouTube channel called “Everything Blind.” EJ was honored by National Industries for the Blind during an event in Washington, D.C. on April 18 as the national Employee of the Year.

Carlo Green was named IFB Solutions Employee of the Year for the Little Rock facility. Carlo first joined the organization in 1993 and worked across several departments for 15 years before leaving and then rejoining IFB in 2016. A skilled operator, Carlo is trained on several machines for different manufacturing lines from T-shirt production to the Paper department.

Dennis Rothfuss was named IFB Solutions Employee of the Year for the Winston-Salem facility. A native of Kansas, Dennis had a busy career managing his family’s 5,000-acre farm and owning a local hotel when he began losing his sight in his early 40s. Doctors speculated the cause was surgery he had as a child, and the diagnosis radically changed Dennis’ life. At the urging of his family, Dennis moved to North Carolina to pursue broader job opportunities for individuals with vision loss. He joined IFB in 2010 as a sewing machine operator and is currently a member of the Ripstop Air Force Battle Uniform (RABU) sewing team. Having studied cabinet-making following high school, Dennis spends time outside of work crafting beautiful wooden pieces from jewelry boxes to dining room furniture.

Michael Mote of Winston-Salem was named the Milton J. Samuelson Career Achiever Award. A graduate of Jacksonville State University in Alabama, Mike grew up a sports enthusiast. He and his older brother were born blind, and their parents encouraged both boys to pursue every hobby and interest. Mike joined IFB in 2012 as a customer service representative supporting a call center contract but quickly was promoted to a new opportunity as a quality analyst that relocated him to Georgia. In 2014, IFB named Mike as an Assistive Technology Specialist supporting customer service representatives and analysts as well as other areas within IFB. In his spare time, Mike is a well-respected sports commentator and radio personality in Alabama for college football and basketball.

Bobby Billings of Winston-Salem received the Delmer Wall Outstanding Service Award. Bobby joined IFB Solutions in 2008 working as a member of the IT team. He supports the technology used by hundreds of IFB employees across multiple states working in the four manufacturing and warehouse facilities, 18 Base Supply Center locations and 20 VA optical locations. In addition to his computer-related responsibilities, Bobby is the administrator of the IFB phone system and serves as a key resource for all employees with technical issues.

Pat Bussen Smith of Little Rock, Ark., received the Kathryn W. Garner Volunteer of the Year Award for her many years of service to the IFB Solutions facility in the Little Rock community. Pat, now Professor Emeritus at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock, was a board member of the facility when it was Arkansas Lighthouse for the Blind (ALB). She was instrumental in the acquisition of ALB by IFB and served as the first Chair of the Arkansas Advisory Council. As a volunteer, Pat has helped build the Bingo for Bags fundraiser in Arkansas and also joined the IFB Solutions Board of Directors.

Miracles In Sight of Winston-Salem received the Commodore Funderburk Visionary Award. The award is named for the late Commodore Funderburk who was both blind and deaf, and who worked at IFB for 40 years without missing a day of work. Miracles In Sight, formerly known as The North Carolina Eye Bank, supports the restoration, preservation, and enhancement of sight through transplant, research, and innovation. The partnership with IFB began five years ago when Miracles In Sight, led by President and CEO Dean Vavra, donated nearly $1 million to create the Eye Care and Education Center and help fund IFB’s mobile vision center launch. In 2015, the organization donated an additional $150,000 to purchase two accessible buses for the SEE After School Program and Tracy’s Little Red Schoolhouse. Miracles In Sight also partners with IFB at the Durham Community Low Vision Center.

SP Richards Company of Atlanta, received the IFB Vendor of the Year Award. The company provides a comprehensive offering of products and services that enable IFB’s Base Supply Center (BSC) and ecommerce divisions to deliver an extensive inventory of business products. SP Richards also partners with IFB to expand sales opportunities for AbilityOne office products, many of which are produced by employees at IFB’s three manufacturing facilities. With SP Richards’ support, IFB has grown its BSC and ecommerce teams and created additional employment opportunities for individuals who are blind or visually impaired. Throughout the years, the company has been a committed philanthropic supporter of IFB’s mission and community programs.

In addition to the employee, community and vendor awards, IFB Solutions also recognized employees for years of service and perfect attendance. Nine employees were honored for more than 20 years of service including four employees with 30 or more years of service – Maudeva Willis (44 years of service), Clarence Kinard (39 years of service), Danny Johnson (36 years of service) and Roy Townsend (31 years of service).