Offutt AFB welcomes employees with disabilities via South Dakota nonprofit

Black Hills Works has employees in two different sectors at Offutt Air Force Base.
Published: Mar. 20, 2023 at 10:40 AM CDT
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BELLEVUE, Neb. (WOWT) - When hungry customers come through the King Dining Facility at Offutt Air Force Base, they’re greeted by a friendly face, like Kim Pierce.

She’s worked there for the past 27 years.

“I know their names, and they know my name; and I always get along with them and I’m very friendly and very kind to them,” Pierce said.

Kim is just one of 29 workers employed by Black Hills Works, a nonprofit based out of South Dakota that provides job opportunities for adults with physical or developmental disabilities.

“They could be bussing tables; they could be back-stalking all the food items, beverage items, working in the kitchen, washing pots and pans,” said Terry Wilson, contract manager for the nonprofit.

Black Hills Works has employees in two different sectors at Offutt: one within the food service at King Dining Hall, another shelf stocking, janitorial work, and warehousing at the commissary.

Getting folks like Kim employed is just one part of the puzzle.

“We provide door-to-door service with transportation for anybody that works for us with that opportunity. It’s at a low price. A great opportunity for people that don’t have transportation,” Wilson said.

Employees can work as many days as they’re comfortable with, he said.

And their employment is 100% needed.

“When we go to deploy, if we deploy, nine times out of 10 they will provide our contingency cooks, they’ll come in and help us out. Those contingency cooks and very important because it allows us to do our mission,” says Christopher Gilbert.

Kim said her favorite job is working the cash register.

“I cashier, I do the kitchen, beverage line, pots and pans in the dining room, and I can clean the grill,” she said.

Aside from the steady job, it’s allowed Kim to build some meaningful friendships.

“They get to know the customers. And generally, in a professional manner, we go by last name. Not the majority of our employees — they go on a first-name basis because they feel that close and they connect,” Wilson said.

Kim said she plans to keep working there for many years to come.