Organization provides disabled job opportunities

ENMRSH Inc courtesy photo Lynn Fogleman, switchboard operator, connects callers in the operator switchboard room July 28 at Cannon Air Force Base. Fogleman has worked at Cannon eight years through ENMRSH, a Clovis company that helps people with disabilities find employment.

By Airman 1st Class Alexxis Pons Abascal: 27th SOW Public Affairs

As an airman stationed at Cannon Air Force Base, chances are some of the behind-the-scenes amenities service members are accustomed to have gone unnoticed.

Information on what to do around town or how to get in touch with a particular person or squadron always seems to be as simple as making a phone call. Groceries purchased at the commissary seem to bag themselves in a moment’s notice. Even the tables in the Pecos Trial dining facility seem to clear themselves seconds after airmen walk away.

ENMRSH is a private non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for people with disabilities. The group provides programs that respond to changing needs in education, training, and employment for service members and their families at Cannon.

“Our organization came to Cannon in 1984 and has since then worked on maintaining over a 75 percent disabled workforce,” said Damian Houfek, ENMRSH Incorporated, president and chief executive officer. “Our main goal is to provide services which can altogether promote independent living.”

“We are TRICARE approved, and since 1990 we have been able to work with the Family Infant and Toddler program to provide families here at Cannon with free development screenings,” said Lula Brown, ENMRSH Inc. director of early child intervention.

The ENMRSH early intervention department works closely with various agencies in the local community to ensure that the needs of Cannon families are met.

“If families have any concerns about the development of their child, we can help them determine whether or not their child is on target for their age,” said Brown.

ENMRSH has also partnered with the base to provide employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

“The largest group of individuals employed we have here is probably at the dining facility,” said Houfek. “Then it’s followed by the commissary and lastly here at the operator switchboard.”

These opportunities have allowed disabled individuals to work as independently as possible and earn competitive wages.

“The department of labor sets all the wages for contracts,” said Kirk Marshall, ENMRSH Inc. director of employment services. “No accommodations are made for being disabled which is a good thing; that way it’s the ability that’s showcased, not the disability.”

ENMRSH utilizes tools and processes to help individuals find work that interests them. They provide education as necessary to accommodate individuals with disabilities to gain employment that means something to them.

“We take it on like a personal goal to make a difference in someone’s life,” said Houfek. “There is a misconception I think people have that those individuals who are disabled can’t do much in the ways of labor.”

The Cannon switchboard is operated by ENMRSH. This job requires training in communication skills, a working knowledge of how to link deployed military and their families, and the ability to act as a base locator.

“People don’t realize how difficult it is to do everyday tasks for someone who is disabled,” said Ginger Bishop, ENMRSH Inc., switchboard project manager. “The kind of work we do really opens your eyes to different walks of life.”

ENMRSH just celebrated its 40-year anniversary and continues to use its person-centered approach to provide assistance to over 600 families and children in eastern New Mexico annually.

For information on ENMRSH, contact the organization’s human resources manager at 762-3718.