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The bism grapevine Winter 2016

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The BISM Grapevine – Winter 2016

BISM Associate Of The Year, NIB Award Nominees Named by Rob Ennamorato

Congratulations to the BISM Associate of the Year for 2015 Rachel Workman! Rachel is a key member of the team, which serves as BISM’s e-commerce division and provides support for the Base Supply Centers. Rachel was chosen from the following seven division winners: AbilityOne BSCs: Rachel Workman; Baltimore Production: James Odom; Corporate Administration: Heather Rankin; Cumberland Production: Sue Morlen; Raleigh Production: Linwood Wallace; Rehabilitation: Stephen Polacek; and Salisbury Production: Alton Foskey.

BISM is pleased to nominate Baltimore associate Kenny Merritt for the 2016 National Industries for the Blind (NIB) Milton J. Samuelson Career Achievement Award. Kenny has been a devoted and helpful associate with BISM since 2001. Kenny is a key member of the BISM Beverage department. As a Team Leader of five associates, Kenny coordinates and supervises the water deliveries, supervises the water production line, and assists with the water label printing process.

BISM is also proud to nominate Salisbury associate Kenneth Tucker for the 2016 NIB Peter J. Salmon Direct Labor Employee of the Year Award. Kenny began his career with BISM in 2009. Kenny is a great team member who always assists other blind associates. Kenny serves as a material handler and stages work areas on the production tables.

Rachel, Kenny, and Kenneth were all recognized for their accomplishment at a recent BISM Board of Trustees meeting, and all three will attend the National Industries for the Blind’s National Conference in Virginia in September.

Youth Bell Program Returns To Salisbury by Shirley Riffle

BISM’s senior staff at the Salisbury Training Center invited youth participants of all ages from this past summer’s Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning (BELL) program for a day of activities, learning, and fun on the January 18 Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

Rehab instructor Danielle Earl and Miss Angie from the SAIL program worked with the blind children in the kitchen to make tasty spaghetti and meatballs and homemade hot pretzel rolls, as well as healthy snacks. The children read Braille books, wrote on the Braillewriter, reconnected with blind peers, and improved their white cane travel skills. Lively games included hide and go seek, duck-duck goose, and many more!

Salisbury hosted this past July’s two-week Bell Program and it was a big success.

Side To Side: How BISM Helped A Young Boy Towards Independence by Melissa Lomax

Abdallah Helal, five years old, enjoys cars, playgrounds, and music. He lives in Saudi Arabia with his parents and four siblings. In August 2015, Abdallah’s life changed drastically when doctors discovered a benign tumor in his brain. In December, Abdallah and his parents, Nasser and Hessah Helal, traveled to Baltimore to receive medical treatment from Johns Hopkins. After a surgery left Abdallah completely blind, the family researched blindness services for youth and found BISM.

Abdallah arrived at BISM Baltimore in a stroller, but travel instructor L.J. Bowens quickly equipped Abdallah with a white cane and travel lessons. For days, the young boy’s voice could be heard chanting “side to side” to remind himself how to use his cane. He quickly embraced freedom and independence. Meanwhile, his parents learned Braille, Voiceover, independent living tips, and more from the Baltimore Rehabilitation staff. Everyone was excited to help out wherever needed. Several staff members donated braille books and materials, and others devoted time to teaching fundamental techniques. BISM staff shared information on devices, teaching tools, organizations and, most importantly, we showed our dedication and love for transforming the lives of blind people of all ages.

On February 22, 2016, the Helal family boarded a plane to return to Saudi Arabia. During their car ride, they called BISM to express their deep gratitude for our services and resources. Nasser and Hessah shared that they now know that Abdallah can have a promising future, and they attribute this knowledge to BISM. Abdallah expressed his love for those he worked with at BISM and Nasser and Hessah requested that I thank everyone who had a hand in helping their family. To BISM as a whole, the Helal family thanks you for your commitment to improving the lives of blind persons, your hard work, and your friendliness.

Congratulations To Rehab Program Grad by Stephen Polacek

Congratulations to Joy Mistovich for graduating from BISM’s CORE adult program in December! Joy came all the way from Ohio to train at BISM and will be returning there to continue her education. She is an excellent writer – you can check out some of her articles she wrote for BISM publications. We wish Joy all the best as she moves on to new opportunities.

Associate Of The Quarter Winners

A big congratulations to the winners of the BISM Associate of the Quarter award for the 4th Quarter of 2015: AbilityOne BSCs: Keith Tyson; Baltimore Production: James Odom; Corporate Administration: Ruth Hairsine; Cumberland Production: Ramona Ramsey; Raleigh Operations: Virginia Morgan; Rehabilitation: Liam Lindsay; and Salisbury Production: Alton Foskey.

Development And Fundraising Department Busy In Spring by Lyn Watner

There are quite a few things happening in the Development and Fundraising department. I have been busy learning the database and developing new prospects that will increase our investor base.

We are working on a new fundraising event for the spring, the inaugural BISM Eastern Shore Pro-Invitational Golf Classic on June 10. We have had a lot of success with our fall Golf Classic fundraiser in Baltimore and we think that, with sponsor support from businesses in the Delmarva region, that the Eastern Shore Golf Classic will also be successful!

We also kicked off an online fundraising campaign to build a new kitchen for the youth summer program at the Baltimore location. Please visit BISM’s Razoo page at to make a donation. We are also looking for funding for a new transitional housing program for CORE graduates who may still need assistance with the decision making process of going to college, finding a job, or setting a career path.

BISM’s Wall Of Recognition

Blind Industries and Services of Maryland’s Wall of Recognition honors associates who are celebrating an anniversary of 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, or 50 years of employment at BISM during the year of 2016. The entire organization congratulates the following associates for their dedicated service and commitment to BISM!


Robert Taylor—Cumberland


Russell Rummer—Cumberland


Randy Holmes—Salisbury Cutting

Rose Jones-Harris—Salisbury Cutting

Robert McMahan—Baltimore

Anthony Rodriguez—Salisbury


Thomas Owens—Baltimore

Melissa Stott—Cumberland

James Odom—Baltimore

Susan Coleman—Salisbury

Rudolph Hill—Baltimore


Lisa Snow—Cumberland

Rose Fosque—Salisbury Cutting

Edward Lozzi—Dover BSC

Deborah Nack—Salisbury Cutting

Anh Nguyen—Salisbury

Freddie Rosen—Salisbury Cutting

Ramona Ramsey—Cumberland

Jeannie Morris—Cumberland

Lucrecia Minchala—Salisbury

Deborah Collins—Salisbury

Linda Schaffer—Salisbury

Charles Collier—Baltimore

Doris Baker—Cumberland

Barbara Williams—Salisbury Cutting

Marian Kelley—Salisbury Cutting

Stephen Ray—Cumberland

Phillip Barber—Baltimore

Barry Councill—Aberdeen BSC

Kenneth Merritt—BISM Beverage

Keith Tyson—Andrews BSC

Soon Shin—Salisbury

Chuck Slavotinek—Baltimore


William Sheffield—Aberdeen BSC

Tracy Nowland—Ft. Knox BSC

Angela Meredith—Baltimore

Rob Ennamorato—Baltimore

Mark Durst—Cumberland

Kevin Gillespie—ShopBISM

Brian Blevins—Aberdeen BSC

Linwood Boyd—Baltimore

Nam Park—Salisbury

Joan Meyer—Aberdeen BSC

James Gray—Aberdeen BSC


Andrew McIver—Baltimore

Richard Thompson—Baltimore

Joyce Wilson—Baltimore

Christine Wilkins—Raleigh

Hazel Miller—Raleigh

Rim Brooks—Raleigh

Thelma Floyd—Raleigh

Virginia Grenier—Raleigh

Johnny Crenshaw—Dover BSC

Gustavo Melendez—Raleigh

Xiying Wang—Salisbury

Douglas Easton—Cumberland

Jerry Hutt—Salisbury

Jamie Whitwood—Baltimore

Shane Jones—Raleigh

Hyoun Park—Salisbury

Molly Arnold—Cumberland

Connie Ellingsen—Salisbury

Sabrina Richardson—Baltimore

David Morrow—Dover BSC

Auildo Kelly-Azor—Salisbury

Brent Jones—Raleigh

Cynthia Morales—Baltimore

Nancy Carder—Cumberland

Mona Harper—Cumberland

Dongmei Zhu—Salisbury

Cheryl Bell—Cumberland

Joseph Stefursky—Salisbury

Nikos Daley—Baltimore

Christa Hillegass—Cumberland

John Ballard—Salisbury Cutting

Sue Morlen—Cumberland

Happy Birthday Associates


Susan Adkins—Baltimore 1

William Robinette—Baltimore 1

Miriam Reyes Velazquez—Raleigh 2

Tim Hammett—JBAB BSC 2

Barbara Frisby—Salisbury 2

Kimberly Utley—Dover BSC 3

Larry Overton—Raleigh 3

Susan Coleman—Salisbury 3

Miriam Peralta Lombert—Raleigh 3

Sheila Pyles—Cumberland 5

Tanesha McLeod—Baltimore 5

Donna Wagner—Baltimore 6

Mark Durst—Cumberland 8

Melissa Lindsay—Baltimore 9

Shametress Collins—Salisbury 9

Frances Black—Baltimore 11

Maxwell Kalifut—Baltimore 11

Lisa Snow—Cumberland 13

Bennie Dunlap—Raleigh 14

Dorothy Elliott—Salisbury 14

Fermin Kelly-Baret—Salisbury Cutting 15

Deana Emerick—Cumberland 16

Bibiana Whitaker—Raleigh 20

Glenda Daniels—Cumberland 20

Freddie Rosen—Salisbury 21

Jennifer Bopp—Baltimore 22

Jill Barbon—Salisbury 26

Maria Nunez—Raleigh 26

Andrew Green—Baltimore 27

Chester Carnes—Cumberland 27

Jerry Hutt—Salisbury 27


Ericka Hayes—Raleigh 1

Walter Rice—Salisbury 1

Mary Borges Miranda—Raleigh 1

Lida Montenegro—Raleigh 2

Michael Yachera—Baltimore 3

Blanca Pacheco Quintana—Raleigh 3

Hee Park—Salisbury 3

Ruth Borgmann—Aberdeen BSC 4

Thomas Williams—Baltimore 4

Evelyn Odorle—Raleigh 4

Lakeshia Cooper—Baltimore 5

Liam Lindsay—Baltimore 5

Leila Ghurtskaia—Salisbury 6

Lois Wilson—Salisbury 6

Maurice Peret—Baltimore 8

Shih Wu—Salisbury 8

Linwood Wallace—Raleigh 9

Anthony Rodriguez—Salisbury 10

E. Lee Nicol—Baltimore 10

Aubrey Brown—Salisbury 10

Pernell Davis—Raleigh 11

Marva Robinson—Raleigh 11

Sabrina Lankford—Salisbury 11

Robert Stewart—Dover BSC 12

Suann Groton—Salisbury 13

Elizabeth Moyer—Baltimore 14

Lisa Gancos—Dover BSC 14

Mona Harper—Cumberland 14

Randolph Dull—Baltimore 14

Chae Sparrow—Salisbury 14

Gerardo Vasquez—Raleigh 15

Regina Drew—Cumberland 15

Diana Montiel Martinez—Raleigh 16

Stacy Jarman—Salisbury 16

Alba Garcia—Raleigh 16

Curtis Larmore—Salisbury 17

Jeannie Morris—Cumberland 17

Gilbert Thomas—Raleigh 18

Karen Swauger—Cumberland 19

Susan Valentine—Cumberland 19

George Shockley—Salisbury 20

Hazel Edgerton—Raleigh 20

Nam Park—Salisbury 20

Timmy Patterson—Cumberland 20

Mina Boukaaba—Raleigh 20

Etta Everette Mcneal—Ft. Knox BSC 21

Pamela Little—Salisbury 22

Anthony Shields—Baltimore 23

Mervat Abdelshahid—Raleigh 24

Terry Slacum—Baltimore 24

Thomas Tyree—Baltimore 24

Glenn Brown—Salisbury Cutting 25

Anh Nguyen—Salisbury 26

Deanna Mooney—Ft. Knox BSC 26

Stephen Grier—Baltimore 26

Andre Sconion—Aberdeen BSC 27

Jason Adkins—Cumberland 27

Kathryn Carpenter—Raleigh 29

Cynthia Morales—Baltimore 30

Sabrina Hutchison—Ft. Knox BSC 30

Elizabete Eck—Cumberland 30

Shanelle Hillard—Baltimore 31

Daniel Woodall—Cumberland 31


Deborah Nack—Salisbury Cutting 1

Donald Hinson—Baltimore 1

Rosenda Hahner—Salisbury 2

Robert McMahan—Baltimore 2

Shelia Scarborough—Salisbury Cutting 2

Tavaris Johnson—Raleigh 2

Xinh Nguyen—Salisbury 2

Susan Paulikowski—Salisbury 2

Joseph Stefursky—Salisbury 3

Nancy Pacheco-Aguilar—Raleigh 4

Johnna Harrison—Baltimore 4

Thomas Owens—Baltimore 4

Rob Ennamorato—Baltimore 5

Christopher Reed—Dover BSC 5

Michael Windows—Dover BSC 6

Jacqueline Gainey—Raleigh 6

Shirley Hill—Salisbury 6

Shih Wu—Salisbury 9

Clare Newcomer—Baltimore 9

Nathaniel Greene—Baltimore 9

Joseph Carter—Raleigh 12

Timothy Ware—Cumberland 12

Sean Kennedy—Reston BSC 13

Justin Shroyer—Baltimore 14

Virginia Garcia Cortes—Raleigh 14

Tina Batchelder—Salisbury Cutting 14

Rochell Tooles—Baltimore 15

Jamie Tran—Salisbury 15

Carla Glenn—Raleigh 16

Sean McAteer—Cumberland 16

Malcolm Crumpler—Raleigh 16

Hyoun Park—Salisbury 16

Christine Koch—Cumberland 16

Richard Henry—Dover BSC 17

Albert Newman—Baltimore 18

Tracy Duffy—Raleigh 19

Nicole Appold—Cumberland 19

Dania Trinidad Suazo—Raleigh 19

Brittany King—Baltimore 20

Ma Ines Soto Arrellano—Raleigh 20

William Sheffield—Aberdeen BSC 20

Rebecca Sexauer—Salisbury 21

Ahmad Janbaz Bandegan—Raleigh 22

Brian Fredrickson—Dover BSC 22

Mark McLean—Raleigh 23

Joanne Ojedis—Raleigh 23

Lyn Watner—Baltimore 24

Jerome Jones—Raleigh 24

Delmor Adkins—Cumberland 24

Hae Kim—Salisbury 24

Charles Jackson—Baltimore 25

Edward Lancaster—Ft. Knox BSC 25

Roger Plummer—Cumberland 26

Rose Fosque—Salisbury Cutting 26

Gregory Hodges—Raleigh 27

Pearl Franko—Raleigh 28

Gustavo Melendez—Raleigh 29

John Grizzel—Baltimore 30


Maryland Dignitaries Tour BISM Locations

BISM has been fortunate over the past few months to have political dignitaries tour various BISM locations. Maryland State Senator Catherine E. Pugh (D-District 40), who is running for Mayor of Baltimore City, toured BISM Baltimore headquarters on December 21 with BISM President Frederick J. Puente. Sen. Pugh toured our rehabilitation and manufacturing divisions and met BISM associates.

Salisbury Mayor Jake Day toured BISM Salisbury’s Rehabilitation training center and sewing operation on January 12. Mayor Day met our SAIL students, learned about the free rehabilitation services provided daily at BISM, and chatted with many of our sewing associates. Mayor Day is extremely knowledgeable about the military uniforms that BISM produces because he is currently a First Lieutenant in the Army, serving as a TAC Officer in the Officer Candidate School. He commented many times about wearing the uniforms that we make here in Salisbury!

Maryland’s Secretary of Commerce Michael Gill toured BISM’s Baltimore headquarters on February 10. Secretary Gill toured the Rehabilitation and Production departments with BISM President Frederick J. Puente and had the opportunity to speak with BISM associates.

Wellness Corner: Getting Healthy At Work by Donna Clark, R.N.

The following article was taken from Eating Well magazine about being healthy at work:

Stand Up When You Can: Workers who used a standing desk burned more calories compared to those using sitting desks, says a study published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health. And standing desks can help improve your posture. But remember: to use a standing desk correctly you shouldn’t be standing all day long, so alternate sitting and standing. If a standing desk isn’t an option, try getting up during phone calls, meetings and presentations. Nurse Donna advises stand up at least once an hour or try some “deskercises.”

Eat Elsewhere: Lunching “al desko” could set you up for a more stressful day at work. People who took a 30 minute walk during their lunch break felt less tense or nervous and more enthusiastic compared to days where they spent their lunch chair-bound, found research from the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports. If your boss expects you to work through lunch, mention that a break can improve your performance by preventing burnout. Nurse Donna advises even 15 minutes of activity at lunch will make a difference. Walk the production floor, hit the exercise room, or just walk the halls at your facility twice.

Clean Your Snack Shelf: The food at your desk affects your eating choices. People ate nearly 50% more candy when it was on their desk than when it was several feet away, found Cornell University research. “If healthy foods are at your desk, it is easier to make good choices when you are looking for a snack,” explains Sean Cash, PhD., food economist and professor at Tufts University. Opt for fruit, nuts, or dried chickpeas. Nurse Donna advises watch out for hidden sugars in prepackaged food. Keep fresh fruits and veggies or nuts to munch on.

Upcoming Events

BISM’s Big Bash

The 8th annual BISM’s Big Bash fundraiser takes place on April 9 from 6-10 pm at the Mardela Springs Fire Hall, located near Salisbury. Includes a hearty dinner, live music, table games, raffles, a gift wheel, and more! Tickets are $30 in advance, $35 at the door. Call 410-845-2348 or visit for tickets and more information.


Applications are being accepted for BISM’s SILVER Retreat for legally blind seniors 55 and over with a strong desire for independence. The free retreat is taking place June 7-10, and includes life skills training, social activities, product demos, and peer support. Hotel and meals are also included! For more information, contact Baltimore’s Ruth Sager at 410-737-2649 or or Salisbury’s Amy Crouse at 410-845-2333 or

BISM Eastern Shore Pro-Invitational Golf Classic

Join us for the inaugural BISM Eastern Shore Pro-Invitational Golf Classic fundraiser at Green Hill Country Club in Quantico, MD on June 10. To reserve your spot, contact Linda Schaffer at 410-845-2319. For sponsorship information, contact Lyn Watner at 410-737-2660.

BISM Volunteer Spotlight: Joanne Breedlove by Shirley Riffle

Joanne “Jo” Breedlove volunteers at BISM’s Salisbury Training Center, spending many hours of her time on duties such as: folding and stuffing monthly senior newsletters, post office deliveries, telephone calls, shopping, errands, and more. She enjoys interacting with seniors and staff as a friend and peer who is patient, positive, and encouraging. In addition to work duties at BISM, Jo makes monthly donations to support training for seniors losing vision and the senior programs that helped her husband gain independence and confidence before his passing.

Joanne and Bill Breedlove, who were married for 57 years, first learned about BISM at The Possibilities Fair for Seniors Losing Vision in 2007. They contacted BISM’s Senior Services and set up a home visit with Amy Crouse. During her visit, Amy discussed BISM services, gave Bill a cane with instruction, and tactually marked the kitchen appliances. Bill enthusiastically began attending the VIPS Support Group meeting, and eventually began adapted computer technology class training with Danielle Earl. Bill was a motivated learner, and he decided to attend the BISM SILVER Retreat in Baltimore where he furthered his blindness skills and self-confidence. Sadly, Bill passed away in 2010. Joanne donated Bill’s computer to BISM to provide another blind senior with the same opportunity that Bill had to regain independence through technology – it is what Bill would have wanted.

Joanne has stayed closely connected to BISM. Joanne is an important member of the BISM team, an ambassador who shares the BISM story throughout her community, a loyal friend, and dedicated volunteer. Joanne Breedlove – thank you for all you do!

Catching Up

BISM Beverage Update

If you attend the Preakness this year at Pimlico Race Course or visit Laurel Park Racetrack you will see a new addition to their product line – Custom Label Water. Congrats to BISM Beverage for landing this prime local account as the first order of 20 pallets was delivered on Feb 27. BISM Beverage is currently trying to work out an agreement with the MGM Casino at National Harbor to provide Custom Label Water for their opening in October. Our five gallon orders are still growing and we are seeking out and accepting new customers.

Salisbury Lions Club Donates To BISM

The Salisbury Lions Club held its annual Oyster Roast/Meeting at BISM’s Salisbury location on February 3 and we are very pleased to share that the Lions Club presented Rehab Coordinator Amy Crouse with a $1,000 check to use for our Rehabilitation programs and services on the Eastern Shore. The Salisbury Lions Club’s generous support of our programs for blind and low vision seniors, adults and children is greatly appreciated!

Japanese National Rehabilitation Center Visits BISM Baltimore

BISM Baltimore hosted Yoshitaka Sagara from Japan’s National Vocational Rehabilitation Center for Persons with Disabilities on January 29. Mr. Sagara, a vocational trainer for their organization, was very interested in both our Rehabilitation training and manufacturing operations.

Staff and Students Make Holidays Brighter

BISM Salisbury held its annual Holiday Fair on December 5, presented by Rehabilitation department’s Senior Services. Thirty-two vendors and local artisans displayed a wonderful assortment of gifts and items for sale, and SAIL seniors prepared a bounty of home-baked breads and cookies. Seniors and staff from Baltimore’s SAIL program delivered 36 red stockings filled with toys and treats to the Ronald McDonald House on December 21 in Baltimore. Seniors collected donations and filled each stocking to the brim. The Baltimore Activities Committee “adopted” a family of four for the holidays and collected donations of gift cards, clothes and toys for the family.

SAIL Graduate Receives NFB Award

Congratulations to SAIL graduate Francoise Maceus, who received the prestigious Anna Freysz Cable Award at NFB of Maryland’s Convention.















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