Dedication to AbilityOne Program Makes 185th Airman a Champion

  • Published
  • By Heather Loveridge
  • AbilityOne
There are some people who truly define the word "advocate". Senior Master Sgt. Vicky Williams is one of those people. Since 2007, when she first brought the AbilityOne Program on base at the 185th Air Refueling Wing, Iowa Air National Guard, she has continually searched for other AbilityOne opportunities.

"She really tries to do whatever she can to put the AbilityOne Program first, before other things," said Rachel Osero, project manager, NISH north central region. "I've only met a few people that every time they've got something they call me and ask if it's an opportunity for AbilityOne - Vicky always does that."

Williams began working for the Air National Guard 25 years ago, thanks to a friend's father who introduced her to a recruiter. Today, as the base contracting officer, she is responsible for contracting for the supplies, services and construction necessary to support the 185ARW. She has a BA in criminal justice from Saint Leo University and an AAS in contracts management from Community College of the Air Force.

Though Williams had heard about the AbilityOne program years ago, it wasn't until 2006 that she had the opportunity to bring it on base through a laundry contract. As Osero recalled, it was a labor of love.

"That [contract] was something she really went out on a limb for and spent several years working on, just to give the AbilityOne Program a chance. Those on base were very comfortable with the service they were getting from the current laundry provider," Osero said. "Plus, the non-profit agency we had for the laundry service, Genesis Development, was farther away than the commercial customer she had on the project. Genesis employees would have to drive three hours just to pick up the laundry. But Williams knew how much it meant to this particular non profit to get this contract and she worked tirelessly to secure it for them."

Williams succeeded and in 2007 officially brought Genesis Development in as the new laundry service provider.

"Vicky is very easy to work with. She's very supportive of people with disabilities and her cheerful nature makes the day go easier," said Carrie Wilde, vocational services director at Genesis Development. "She always thinks to ask you about how YOU are."
For Williams, partnering with AbilityOne is a win-win all around.

"Having AbilityOne on base means the agency receives high-quality service at a very reasonable price," she said. "I personally get satisfaction from knowing that my agency is helping people with disabilities remain employed, and seeing the pride they take in their work."

She's also quick to point out other ways the AbilityOne Program benefits her agency and helps make her job easier.

"Once the service is approved and set aside for AbilityOne, the process of contracting for that service becomes much easier. The quality of work is usually very high, and the prices are fair and reasonable," Williams said. "I think using the AbilityOne program truly provides "best value" to the Government. I hope to find more opportunities to contract through AbilityOne."

Currently, 185ARW employs three people with disabilities but is expanding that number through a new mess attendant contract with Goodwill Community Rehabilitation Services, Inc. Once that contract is in place, the number will grow to approximately15 people with disabilities working on base.

"Vicky is truly an advocate," Osero said. "She will look for anything and everything that might be a fit and propose it to me. If I had her multiplied by 50 people I'd have a lot more great opportunities because in the back of her mind she's always looking and searching. She has definitely paved the way for other AbilityOne opportunities on base."
For Williams, bringing the AbilityOne Program on base has been completely worth the initial efforts.

"I think AbilityOne provides great benefit to everyone involved, and it's just the right thing to do," she said. "I encourage all contracting officers to find as many opportunities as possible to contract with AbilityOne. "

NISH extends sincere thanks to Vicky Williams for her dedication and support of the AbilityOne Program.

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