At MidWest Enterprises for the Blind we believe in the inherent value of all people, specifically people who are blind. William has been with MidWest Enterprises for the Blind (MWEB) for many years and currently holds the position of Business Development Coordinator. He’s excited to share some of his story with you:
How did you get connected to MWEB?
My sight had severely diminished and I was no longer able to run my mail order business. My wife passed away during the same time and I needed some additional work. At the Commission for the Blind, my counselor recommended that I look into MWEB in addition to the other companies I was applying for. She had been helping me to apply for a number of jobs. I had heard some things here and there about MWEB, but didn’t know much and wasn’t sure how I felt about working there. After doing a little research, though, I understood that it is a company with a mission and a great reputation, applying was easy. I ended up going into MWEB, filled out an application, and was basically hired the same day.
What is it like to work at MWEB?
I had been an early adaptor when the Microsoft Office Suite came out so, even as a man who’s blind, I was fairly proficient with the software. I started in production at MWEB and as opportunities opened up, with my skillset, I moved into customer service. I wanted to continue to learn and grow professionally. I went back to school to get my degree in Marketing in order to add value to my position at MWEB and enhance my skillset.
One of the things that I really appreciate about MWEB is the focus on trying to promote from within. I’ve benefited greatly from that focus and have personally and professionally seen myself grow because of my time here. As the company has grown, opportunities have grown and I really love seeing the opportunities that the companies offer to the me and the rest of the staff.
What would life be like for you without MWEB?
I always say, “no one’s knocking down our doors to hire folks who are blind” and so when my life was in a tailspin I really needed steady work and MWEB was willing to hire me. I didn’t want to lose my house or my standard of living. I’m a person who is constantly in motion, taking advantage of opportunities, so I think I would have found something for work eventually, but I don’t know that it would have afforded me what MWEB has afforded me.
As a nation we’re celebrating Black History Month, what does this month mean to you?
I’ve thought about this for the interview and think about it often. I am a business professional who happens to be black. I appreciate the fact that those who came before me were willing to make sacrifices so that I can have the opportunities that I have now, both in my personal life and professionally. It feels important to me to encourage everyone to continue to strive for equality so that we can be strong as a human race. Unity is very important to me. I believe that we owe it to ourselves to strive to develop as individuals so that we can see the benefits for ourselves and for our community.
MWEB is more than just a job, it’s a community. A place where no idea is too big or too small and there is always someone to help out. You can feel the mission of the company in all that it does and as a member of the team it’s very satisfying. Everyone here is expanding their skills through production efficiency, learning new jobs, and continuing their education.
The company really turns the mission into a reality by providing not just skills and work for employees, but a quality product for customers as well.Gage Campbell, Quality Coordinator
Our mission is to find work and employ blind individuals so that they can become economically independent. The people we employ want to work, be independent and earn their way. But people should know that we are also a manufacturing facility that focuses on quality. We’re ISO certified and customer-focused.Glen Mackey, VP of Operations
Working here is exciting, because I was able to take my degree and put it to use. The company provided an opportunity to go to DC to participate in National Industries for the Blind’s Public Policy Forum. I meet legislators and advocate for people who are blind. Being a champion for people who are blind has really sparked my interest.
It’s a wonderful investment that the company has made, where employees can learn lifelong skills that they can use in their personal lives, and also apply to their profession.Misty Stenberg, Public Policy Liaison
I believe in what this company provides. Our mission, to provide employment to people who are blind, and to provide quality products and services to our customers, are what motivate me.
I’m proud of working with such great people.Vicky Hickok, Administrative Manager
Our mission statement is to employ people who are blind, but it’s so much more than that. We are giving people an opportunity, that they can not only work and have their independence, but they can also grow and equip themselves. This company will help people develop skills, even if they want to move on to other employment.
When losing my vision, I felt that my options were being narrowed, but MWEB was a new beginning.William Drain, Business Development Coordinator