For so many people living with a disability, working in a meaningful job within the community can make a tremendous difference. When people with disabilities work, everyone benefits: employers gain skilled, motivated and enthusiastic workers who are committed to a job well done; and workers with disabilities gain a true sense of independence, pride and accomplishment in being part of the local workforce. Not only that, but studies have consistently shown that employing people with disabilities has a distinct, positive effect on overall staff morale – and businesses seen as “disability-friendly” are viewed positively by potential customers, clients and the community as a whole.
LifeROOTS has long been committed to partnering with numerous organizations and employers throughout the region to secure business contracts to ensure that people with disabilities can work in jobs that they love throughout the community. We’re proud of the partnerships that we have built with these businesses – and we’re equally proud of a very special partnership that we have created with another organization serving the needs of those with disabilities – Adelante Development Center (www.GoAdelante.org).
Through our long-time partnership with Adelante, our organizations work together to ensure that individuals with disabilities in our community are given opportunities to thrive in the workplace – and beyond. In particular, we work directly with Adelante’s Facilities Support Services (FSS) on three important business contracts to help both of our organization’s clients – working closely on our contracts with Kirtland Air Force Base, the City of Albuquerque and DTRA (Defense Threat Reduction Agency). Currently, LifeROOTS has 42 employees who are employed through these three contracts; Adelante has 29 employees employed through these contracts – bringing the total number of individuals employed by our two organizations to 71.
“Over the years, like all contractors with government contracts, we have seen increases and we have seen reductions according to the needs of our customer, the Federal government,” says David Griffis, Director of Contracts/FSO at LifeWORKS. “Four years ago, LifeROOTS only provided employment opportunities for our disabled employees through federal contracts, but now, we have had to look in other directions for employment opportunities. For LifeROOTS, our partnership with Adelante on the city of Albuquerque contract has done just that: it has opened the door to more opportunities to empower our employees so that they can shape their own futures.”
Reflecting on the partnership between LifeROOTS and Adelante (a partnership that began back in 2003, when the government wanted to simplify things and move from two separate contracts for Kirtland Air Force Base to having a sub-contract working relationship between our two organizations), it’s clear that there are numerous benefits to working together.
“Working together, as we have on these three contracts, we are able to share resources and strengths of our two organizations to help people with severe disabilities secure and maintain jobs in the community,” notes Terrence Andrews, Director of Government Contracts at Adelante. “Equally as important, working together makes things more efficient for the government agencies we work with, and enables our contracts to run as smoothly as possible for everyone involved.”
Both LifeROOTS and Adelante note that through working together on these contracts, the organizations have forged a relationship that is more than just a Prime/Subcontractor arrangement. Unique to this relationship is the fact that both LifeROOTS and Adelante share those roles – not on the same contract, but with these contracts. This has created a real team effort and atmosphere of respect and admiration.
Our relationship with Adelante continues to build upon the strong “roots” begun while partnering on the Kirtland contract initiated more than a decade ago. Today, we continue to work closely together on these three important contracts that provide tremendous employment opportunities to clients within each of our organizations – and remain enthusiastic about the potential for additional shared contracts in the years to come. Both LifeROOTS and Adelante note that they would be eager to explore potential partnerships on future contracts if the opportunity presents itself – with both organizations also noting that the most important thing remains to provide people with disabilities with every advantage when it comes to securing jobs.
“Our partnership has worked on so many levels when it comes to these shared contracts,” stresses Kathleen Cates. “When we share our resources and streamline our processes, it can be advantageous for everyone – including the government agencies we work with and the many people with disabilities throughout our community who are clients of both LifeROOTS and Adelante.”