The power of connection

By Tatiana Peralta 11/16/2021
The power of connection

Kelvin Braymen is responsible for connecting service members to the people they care about. As a lead in the Offutt Air Force Base mailroom, he ensures base staff receive letters and packages sent by friends and family. This is a job Kelvin doesn’t take lightly.  

As part of his 8-hour shift, Kelvin sorts and delivers hundreds of pieces of mail at three buildings on base through Goodwill Omaha and the AbilityOne® Program, one of the largest sources of employment for people who are blind or have significant disabilities. After 27 years on the job, Kelvin has become a pro in the mailroom, always providing stellar customer service with a smile on his face. He knows his job can impact the day-to-day life of someone on base.   

“Over the past 27 years, Kelvin has demonstrated tremendous growth in his career,” said Diana Roberts, Project Manager at the Offutt Air Force Base. “When he started, he was very timid and afraid to make mistakes. With the right support, he has excelled. He’s always been our go-to person, and we are proud to have him on our team.” 

Kelvin has been with Goodwill Omaha, a nonprofit agency in the SourceAmerica® network, since 1994 -before the organization even had the mailroom contract. In 2002, when the organization was awarded the contract, Kelvin was instrumental in ensuring it was up and running in an efficient and timely manner. Shortly after, Kelvin was promoted to lead mailroom operator, where has since thrived. In fact, Kelvin is now responsible for teaching other staff how to do the job correctly. 

“As a leader, every person to me is different. I can share in that with them,” said Kelvin. “I always try to understand that I have been where they are before and teach them. But I am still learning with them and sharing in this experience.” 

Along the way, Kelvin has had to overcome barriers and challenges that many people with disabilities face. Before landing at Goodwill Omaha, he struggled to find and keep jobs. The organization has consistently provided him with the right tools and support to help him grow both professionally and personally.  

“Sometimes I struggle to do my best and keep a positive attitude,” he said. “But I have a counselor who helps me through a lot of that stuff. I struggle with some of my life skills, but Diana is always there to support me. If I struggle with something, there’s always someone to help.”  

Kelvin’s job gives him a chance to make a difference and work in an integrated setting alongside other people with disabilities and service members. He is grateful for the opportunity and enjoys spending time with his co-workers, calling it a blessing in disguise.  

“I am glad to have a job; it’s rough out there. Sometimes it’s not easy and it can be overwhelming,” he said.  

After 27 years on the job, Kelvin is getting ready for his much-deserved retirement. Thanks to the AbilityOne Program and Goodwill Omaha, Kelvin can focus on what comes next, including hunting, fishing, and staying away from poison ivy! He hopes other people with disabilities have the opportunity to find meaningful employment that provides them independence today and in the future.  

Want to learn more about how people with disabilities in the SourceAmerica nonprofit network are breaking barriers? check out our Success Stories and Videos