DFAC partners with BCI to offer employment opportunities
By Jaz Levario
U.S. Army Garrison Devens Reserve Forces Training Area Public Affairs
October 14, 2022
DEVENS, Mass. – Adapting and overcoming adversity is a way of life for service members in the military. It is no surprise that our civilian employees are just as resilient, Adele La Fleur is a contract manager and was selected by the Department of Rehabilitation for the position. Adele works at the Artesani Warrior Restaurant, she enjoys cooking, baking and sharing her talent with the staff and she is completely blind.
Adele grew up in an Italian neighborhood in Boston’s North End. It’s such a tightknit community and subculture where everybody knows everybody, Adele said. When she was interested in baking growing up, she would just stop in to the local pastry shop and ask them to show her how to make something. She has been a baker for 44 years now.
“Humans adapt to any situation; look at the guys in POW camps that can adapt and survive. It really is just about adapting and pulling through,” said Adele when asked how she deals with losing her vision.
Adele was born with a degenerative eye disease and is now completely blind. Even though she couldn’t join the Armed Service because of her condition, she said she still really wanted to be able to give back. She does this by being able to make the Soldiers feel the comforts of home through her baking.
Adele is contracted through the Randolph-Sheppard Act (RSA) program in association with Blackstone Consulting, Inc (BCI). The RSA provides employment opportunities for people who are blind so they can be more self-sufficient.
“The RSA is more than hiring a blind person to work in the facility. It is really developing a selected blind person to manage and operate a DOD food service operation,” said Bruce Marquardt, Vice President of Operations at BCI.
Adele has been part of this program for several years and has worked as a baker at several other federal properties - Hanscom Air Force Base, Watertown Arsenal, and Suffolk Superior Court House, to name a few.
“At BCI, we provide extensive vendor manager training to our partnering blind vendors, which includes business practices, food operations, and financial management. We train licensed blind managers to be fully experienced and knowledgeable in all aspects of running a large-scale contract, such as employee relations, union relations, sanitation, food preparation and accounting, inventory control, and payroll costs, to name a few. As the teaming partner, we assist the blind manager from the proposal/RFP process all the way to the contract negotiations. After the blind manager receives an award, we support the transitioning process, from vetting and hiring the food service employees to conduct an inventory of the equipment and material on site,” said Marquardt.
U.S. Army Garrison Devens Reserve Forces Training Area provides premier training capabilities and base operations support to the Total Force in New England.
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