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Shaw celebrates perennial partnership with AbilityOne

AbilityOne employees and Shaw Air Force Base (AFB) personnel eat lunch together for the 20th Annual AbilityOne picnic at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, October 18, 2019.

AbilityOne employees and Shaw Air Force Base (AFB) personnel eat lunch together for the 20th annual AbilityOne picnic at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, October 18, 2019. The AbilityOne program provides a partnership that employs civilians with disabilities and affords them the opportunity to work in a federal position. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob Gutierrez)

20th Contracting Squadron members serve lunch to AbilityOne employees at the 20th Annual AbilityOne picnic at Shaw Air Force Base (AFB), South Carolina, October 18, 2019.

20th Contracting Squadron members serve lunch to AbilityOne employees at the 20th annual AbilityOne picnic at Shaw Air Force Base (AFB), South Carolina, October 18, 2019. The luncheon highlighted a partnership between Shaw AFB and the AbilityOne program that employs civilians in a number of different positions around the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob Gutierrez)

AbilityOne employees gather at the 20th Annual AbilityOne picnic at Shaw Air Force Base (AFB), South Carolina, October 18, 2019.

AbilityOne employees gather at the 20th annual AbilityOne picnic at Shaw Air Force Base (AFB), South Carolina, October 18, 2019. Shaw AFB was the first Air Force installation to celebrate its AbilityOne partnership in the form of an annual celebration and awards ceremony. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob Gutierrez)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- Burgers sizzled on the grill and the sounds of the F-16CM Viper occasionally shook the walls of the hanger and reminded everyone inside of the greater cause in the skies. The guests of the 20th annual AbilityOne picnic were the worthy recipients of this display of hospitality and celebration.

On October 18, 2019, AbilityOne and Shaw Air Force Base celebrated 20 years of partnership and conferred annual awards to outstanding employees who do the utmost to support mission readiness.

“This partnership is a difference maker in the Sumter, South Carolina, community in terms of employing those with disabilities,” said Barry Howard, senior account manager at Source America, a nonprofit agency that facilitates the program.

According to AbilityOne.gov, the program’s largest customer is the Department of Defense which employs approximately 45,000 people who are blind or have significant disabilities.

Shaw employs support from this program in grounds maintenance, food services, custodial services, aseptic veterinary cleaning services, commissary shelf stocking/warehouse and various other operations. Once a year, Team Shaw throws a celebratory picnic to recognize the dedication of these employees and their commitment to something bigger than just a job.

“This is an opportunity to recognize some important people that we have here,” said Maj. Joshua Nabors, 20th Contracting Squadron commander. “We’re giving back and taking a pause to recognize these folks that help us.”

Awards were handed out by the various departments that employ AbilityOne staff and everyone took a moment to celebrate the accomplishments of their peers. However as the dust settled, and the roar overhead rolled on, the mission continued.

“These people get to live in a life where they are supporting the U.S. Air Force, said Howard. “That, for them, is more fulfilling than the independence they experience being everyday citizens.”