Honor Cites Harkin as Life-Long Champion for People with Significant Disabilities
VIENNA, VA, June 19, 2013 — NISH, a national nonprofit agency representing providers of employment for thousands of individuals with significant disabilities, has named Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) as its Jacob K. Javits Legislative Award winner. The award was presented to Sen. Harkin at a Congressional reception on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, June 19.
"I proudly accept this award with the understanding that my work for people with significant disabilities is far from being completed," said Sen. Harkin, who has announced that he will not run for reelection following his current term in the Senate. "When my term is completed, what will be at the top of my agenda is continuing my work to make sure that every person who has a disability has full employment, full participation and economic self-sufficiency."
In 1999 the NISH board of directors established the Jacob K. Javits Legislative Award to recognize elected national officials who demonstrate outstanding support of people with significant disabilities. The award is named for the late Sen. Jacob K. Javits of New York who was instrumental in including people with significant disabilities in what is now known as the AbilityOne® Program. The Program, created under the 1938 Wagner-O’Day Act, was amended in 1971, becoming the Javits-Wagner-O’Day Act. The AbilityOne Program enables nearly 50,000 Americans with significant disabilities or who are blind to have meaningful employment on Federal contracts that supply quality products and services at a fair market price.
Presenting the award to Sen. Harkin, NISH CEO and President Bob Chamberlin said Harkin is recognized as the champion of people with significant disabilities. "Your tireless advocacy in creating employment opportunities, establishing civil rights, promoting inclusive education, advancing independent living supports, providing support as a dedicated AbilityOne Congressional Champion, and expressing vision for the future of employment of people with significant disabilities are just some examples of why you are so uniquely deserving of this prestigious award."
"The Javits award is for truly exceptional performance," said William Coleman Jr., chair of the NISH Board of Directors. "During the 13 years of its existence, the award has been presented on just eight occasions, and only twice in the last five years – two of the most notable recipients being President George H.W. Bush and Sen. Edward Kennedy."
Chamberlin said the award recognizes Harkin's decades of services on behalf of people with significant disabilities, citing in particular Harkin's role as chief sponsor of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), his hosting of the Congressional disability employment summit, and Harkin’s 2012 report "Unfinished Business: Making Employment of People with Disabilities a National Priority."
NISH–Creating Employment for People with Significant Disabilities
Established in 1974, NISH is one of two national, nonprofit agencies designated by the U.S. AbilityOne Commission®to support nonprofit agencies (NPAs) participating in the AbilityOne® Program. NISH provides employment opportunities for people with significant disabilities by procuring Federal contracts for goods and services. Headquartered in Vienna, VA, NISH supports a network of more than 1,200 NPAs as well as Federal customers by providing legislative and regulatory assistance, communications and public relations materials, information technology support, engineering and technical assistance, and extensive professional training needed for successful contract management.
Providing employment opportunities to nearly 50,000 people, the AbilityOne® Program is the largest single source of employment for people who are blind or have significant disabilities in the United States. Nearly 600 participating nonprofit organizations employ these individuals and provide quality goods and services to the Federal Government at a fair market price. The AbilityOne Program is administered by the U.S. AbilityOne Commission®, an independent Federal agency.