Lions World & IRS
Since 1967 the IRS and Lions World Services for the Blind have Teamed up to Recruit Train and Hire Persons with Disabilities.
Lions World Services for the Blind (LWSB) began in 1939 as a non-profit organization designed to train and employee people who are blind to operate vending stands in government buildings. In 1947 the Lions Club of Arkansas provided funds to allow the facility to expand services and become a comprehensive rehabilitation center. Today, LWSB provides counseling services, personal adjustment training, prevocational training and vocational training in 15 career areas ranging from computer engineering to small engine repair. Trainees are given the opportunity to learn valuable job skills so they can function efficiently and competitively in the work place.
The IRS and LWSB provide training programs for various entry level positions. From Collection Representative positions to Computer Programmers. This relationship has resulted in over 1000 persons with disabilities being employed by the IRS. In 2003 forty-six outstanding candidates were trained by Lions World for placement in IRS positions.
Supervisory Contact Representative for IRS's Office of Wage and Investment. "My life all came back together. If it weren't for Lions World Services for the Blind (LWSB), I would not be where I am right now. So every day I say thank you to Lions World."
"I'm Allan Kieta and I'm totally blind. I manage a total of 17 employees 4 of which are visually impaired. Here in our office we have about 280 employees and a total of 19 that are visually impaired. This is probably one of the highest ratios around."
Allan's life in Kentucky became unraveled just when he was enjoying his bachelorhood, his power boat and earning a good living working as a pipe fitter. A tragic accident caused a final total blindness in his one remaining good eye. The other one had been taken by a childhood accident years earlier.
He tells us today, "My life all came back together. If it weren't for Lions World Services for the Blind (LWSB), I would not be where I am right now. So, every day I say, thank you to Lions World and the state agency counselors who recognize the importance of having a facility like Lions World and believe in it. This is the only place in the country where you can receive this type of training."
The Kentucky Department for the Blind named Allan "Client of the Year" because of his achievements and success. He graduated from Lions World Services for the Blind in 1988 from the job specific training offered there by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) called Contact Collection Representative Training. He then went on to a position at the IRS's Detroit Computing Center. Today Allen is a Supervisory Contact Representative for IRS's Office of Wage and Investment.
"When I went to work for the IRS, I excelled there, and I have to attribute that to Lions World because it all started with the evaluation process. I think that it's an excellent program. They were honest and up front and told me what skills to work on. Just three years after graduating from LWSB, I received the highest award you can get at the IRS "Employee of the Year". I think that says a lot for the type of training that can be accomplished at LWSB if you just apply yourself."
To backtrack to his life before blindness, Allan was at the pinnacle of success before he lost his vision. He had graduated at the top of his high school class and was accepted at several colleges, but he wanted a job and an income for the good life, car, boat and motorcycle. So he went right into the workforce earning a high income as a pipe fitter. He was single and enjoyed the single life. "I was a sports jock and there wasn't anything I couldn't do," he explained.
Then the accident happened in 1984. "When something slaps you that hard, it can really put you down. I didn't go to the Kentucky Department for the Blind to get evaluated until 1986. So there was almost two and a half years that I pretty much just laid around and felt sorry for myself. I moved back home with my Mom and Dad and had them waiting on me. It was devastating to be blind. You don't have much self esteem when the only thing you are doing is drawing a social security check. But all that changed. LWSB rehabilitated me, educated me, and found me a job. Now look at me! I'm working every day, paying taxes, have a family, own a home and just enjoying life to its fullest and there are no limits to what I can accomplish."
The most important things in Allan's life are listed as being married, having two wonderful kids and graduating from Lions World.
Allan's success in life came with a dear price, but he is generous with crediting people who have helped him. "I think people would be very surprised if they would just go to LWSB for the one month evaluation. You will return with a different thought process. You're not just an individual just standing in the wind."
If you'd like to learn more about Allan's experience at Lions World you can E-mail him at Allan.R.Keita@irs.gov.
CONTACT LIONS WORLD SERVICES FOR THE BLIND
Jeannie Bates - Vice President for Program Services at Lions World Services for the Blind
"The experiences you have just read are only a couple of the many success stories about our graduates from Lions World Services for the Blind (LWSB). I have the privilege of working as the liaison between LWSB and the IRS. The IRS is a true LEADER in the area of offering career opportunities and accommodations for persons with disabilities. It is very exciting to see how receiving IRS training at LWSB and then moving on to employment with the IRS changes the lives of persons with visual impairments. These individuals have been given the same opportunities for career advancement, job satisfaction, respect and dignity as individuals who are fully sighted. You can learn more about how LWSB can assist you with your employment needs by visiting our website at www.lwsb.org or by contacting us at 1-800-248-0734.
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