Just like everyone else, Bennie Keith sets goals for himself.
With the help of VersAbility Resources’ Government Contracts program, the Newport News native has reached them while bringing home a regular paycheck.
Keith works alongside military and civilian personnel at Naval Weapons Station Yorktown, where he supports the manufacturing of eyeglasses for military personnel. VersAbility holds 19 government contracts, including 14 in the region, and through them, the nonprofit recruits and hires people with disabilities for employment.
For 15 years, Keith has spent his weekdays in the lens lab, where he unboxes, washes and polishes lenses and frames. Sometimes critical thinking is involved as the technology around him can only be used on certain lenses.
“VersAbility has helped in so much,” he says. “In things I couldn’t do and things I could do. Plus, I like working with VersAbility. I mean, who doesn’t?”
One of his early goals was to be named Employee of the Year, an accolade he earned.
Keith used to work at a restaurant but he did not enjoy food service. With the help of his aunt who is his legal guardian, he found VersAbility Resources, which tapped into his personality to pair him with a position more suited to his interests.
Like his father, an Army veteran, Keith feels proud to be serving his country.
“My favorite thing is pulling frames because I pull different ones, but it’s an easy day,” says Keith, who visits Williamsburg’s theme parks and bike rides in his spare time.
Every morning after the alarm rings, he is purposeful about looking at his dad’s shell box that hangs on his bedroom wall. It’s a reminder, he says, “to do the job and do it right, like my father would do it in the Army.”
“VersAbility has done really good for me — in the past, for the future and now.”