Saturday, December 22, 2012

Our Partnership with Local Veterans

They've become invaluable to our business ...

There are approximately 120,000 veterans in the area of western Massachusetts where our business is located.  They are all served by the Veterans Affairs Central Western Massachusetts Healthcare Center in Leeds, Massachusetts.

Three years ago, Ricki heard about a program there to provide some of these veterans with work. Businesses could contract with the center to have some of their light assembly work, etc. done at the health center. It's called the Compensated Work Therapy Workshop. All veterans are eligible and there are many of these programs at VA centers nationwide.

So, we met with one of the Vocational Specialists- Tom Haskell to evaluate our suitability for this program.  Tom took some of our kits and other products and did a cost analysis to determine whether the veterans could do the work for us at a competitive price.

Tom Haskell, Vocational Specialist

They could and we began to partner with the VA.  We started slowly with a few jobs we thought they could do (like packing our kits) and gradually we began to contract with them to do more and more for our business.  They have become invaluable to us and we highly recommend this program to any other suitable businesses.

Holiday Trip to the VA

This year we decided to visit the crew at holiday time to thank them in person for the fabulous job they are doing.  We took pictures to share a little more with you about how great this program is:

Kathy and Sarah packing bags of goodies for the trip to the VA

We wanted it to be a surprise, so the guys were told we were coming for an inspection!

Ricki (the Cheese Queen herself) led the way.

Alison was right behind her.

When we got to the shop, we all got shy and couldn't decide how to present ourselves.  Fortunately, Jim Pruner, vocational specialist, jumped in and announced our presence and our mission to the guys.

Jim Pruner, vocational specialist

Then before we knew it, Kathy began dancing down the aisle singing "Jingle Bells!"

Jeff and Sarah watched in amazement!

Kathy rocked!  (She is officially our Office Cheermeister and part of her job is to plan fun activities for the staff.)

Next, she gave everyone a hug while the rest of us passed out gift bags.

April handing a bag to Thomas Dziedzic.

Ricki and Victor Rivera

Ricki, Victor and Sarah
Left to right:  Angie, Bill Lauden, John Haverly, Ed O'Brian, Daniel Donovan, Steve Spencer, Hank Alves, Louis Marquez, Sarah, Thomas Dziedzic, Victor Rivera, Kathy, Ricki, Alison, April and Jeff

Our Intrepid Team

We would like to thank the following veterans for their service to our country, as well as their service to us:

Bill Lauden

Daniel Donovan

Victor Rivera

Steve Spencer

Thomas Dziedzic

Ed O'Brian

Hank Alves

John Haverly (showing off his hat!)

Louis Marquez


Janet said...

What an amazing group and a great mission! I am Canadian but know that our armed forces and yours do much to help us all!

Janet in Winnipeg, MB

Simona said...

Very nice story! I like the idea that the visit was a surprise. And I hope a similar program exists elsewhere in the country.

Sunnyside Dru said...


Mr. Markus said...

That's the spirit! When you give, it comes back tenfold to you. I wish more companies did what you do! Having a little experience with veterans, you can't imagine what it means to each and every one of them. I'm proud of you and happy to be called your customer who in my little way with purchases directly helps those who gave so much of themselves.

Collie_girl said...

Wonderful story and company!!

Sharon said...

I just found your website and am so impressed! Not only do you have great products and invaluable information but your partnership with veterans is absolutely wonderful. Thank you!
And thanks to all the veterans who have served and sacrificed for their/our country.
God bless you.

Erin said...

Thank you for using the Veteran program. I am an American veteran I received a cheesemakinag starter kit for my birthday. Now that I know what you are doing for vets, I will be buying all my future cheesemaking supplies from you. Thank you again!

Lee said...

I just became interested in cheese making and heard about your site on a you tube video. Your site has answered all of the question that I had including where to buy milk. As a Viet Nam veteran I am Also impressed with the work you are doing with veterans.
Thank you so much for all the education and for employing veterans. I will be buying my supplies from you once I get started with the cheese making.

Jeri said...

Thank you for your comments. We are blessed to have customers like you who take the time to tell us your feelings about this. It's also great for the veterans to see that their work is so appreciated by you, as well as us. Happy cheese making!