TVS was featured on the 2023 Comporium Phone Directory in Transylvania County. We are proud to have our story and mission shared with the community. The inside story reads:
ABOUT OUR COVER
When you take a trip to the grocery store, you may not think of it as a privilege. Instead, you’re probably asking yourself a few questions:
What items are needed for the week? What’s the budget for food? Where can I get the best deals? Can I get a good parking space? You may not be thinking about how those items got on the shelves, let alone who packaged them.
Not everyone has this opportunity. People in need may rely on food banks for their groceries, while families in developing countries around the world may not have a store to go to at all. Members of the military rely on what’s provided for them when they’re deployed. They all depend on the people who work behind the scenes to prepare and package dry food products that can be shipped and distributed around the world. In many cases, that work is being done right here in Transylvania County at TVS, Inc.
While the work itself is very important, that’s not the most impressive thing about this organization. Around 75% of TVS employees have disabilities or other life barriers. At TVS, they are able to find meaningful employment, earn a living wage and make a difference in countless lives. We are honored to recognize TVS on our 2023 Transylvania County Directory cover for their contributions to our area and beyond.
SERVING CITIZENS FOR OVER 50 YEARS
TVS started as a day program for adults with developmental disabilities in 1967. Founded by the Brevard Jaycees, the organization would partner with businesses in the area to provide employment for hundreds of people. This model made a positive impact on the community for 30 years but TVS saw the opportunity to do more. The decision was made to build a dry food manufacturing facility that would give employees steady, year-round work. Over the years, TVS has undergone several modernization phases and currently serves both Transylvania and Henderson counties.
The disabled population is the most marginalized unemployed and underemployed demographic group in the United States. One in four people are disabled and one in three families are affect by disability. It’s often difficult for people with disabilities to find reliable work. TVS fills that gap, providing a stable, integrated work site with wages that exceed the local Living Wage certification.
TVS manufactures a variety of food products under the Mountain maid brand. Through partnerships with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S> Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, over 20 items are provided to food banks and military kitchens. TVS is currently the only supplier of packaged instant non-fat dry milk to the USDA. Fifteen million pounds of powdered milk were provided to food pantries across the county in 18 million gallons of fluid milk. On the military side, enough pancake mix is made in one year to cook 4.3 million pancakes for services members.
After working with TVS for over 10 years, the USDA asked for help with another important program: helping children at risk of starvation in food-insecure regions. TVS developed Super Cereal Plus, a product that can provide supplemental nutrition to children between the ages of six months and two years. Through partnerships with USAID and the World Food Programme, the USDA has distributed more than 250 million servings of the product globally.
Not only are TVS employees feeding the world, they’re also creating an economic impact in Transylvania County. A recent study found that TVS generates $27 million and creates and additional 286 jobs in the area. That’s in addition to the 210 TVS employees and 226 clients that receive services from the organization. Those services include two adult day programs, residential services (including community living group homes and supported living), employment services for individual’s seeking employment through vocational rehabilitation and pre-employment training for students in Transylvania and Henderson counties.
This economic success tells only one part of the story. TVS’ most significant contribution is to the lives of the people it serves.
“It is hard for me to put into words how special and important TVS is to our community. I have worked and been immersed in the disability world for more than 30 years and places like TVS just do not exist,” said Leca Chapman Diehl, TVS Director of Community Development. “TVS’ commitment to the disability community is deep and genuine and I am very lucky to be involved with such a fantastic organization. Our organizational model works to promote success. It is the mission of TVS to provide jobs; the food we package and sell to support our social enterprise model is the byproduct of our mission!”
“Our services provide individuals with the choice to live the lives they want,” said Carla Hill, TVS Program Director. “TVS’ success in services comes from thinking about the individuals that we support and making sure they are part of the plan.”
TVS employees are equally proud of what they are able to accomplish through the various programs offered. “I love my job. It is good, steady employment, and it provides money to support our services side,” said TVS Lead Blend Technician Aaron Owen. A TVS Production Associate agreed: “I like the fact that people with disabilities are able to work and find employment here when it would be harder to find somewhere else. It’s the whole reason I am here.”
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
With such a legacy of success and a continued determination to serve those with disabilities, it’s easy to see that the future of TVS is a bright one.
“Fifty-five years ago, no one could have foreseen what was a head for TVS. One person at a time, one job at a time, TVS has grown into a dynamic business, while staying true to its mission and this could not have been accomplished without the support of our community,” said former TVS CEO and TVS Board Chair Nancy Stricker. “The Founders of TVS recognized that members of our community with disabilities should be given the support and opportunities necessary to go to work. Since that time thousands of individuals have received training from one of TVS’ nationally accredited programs, benefitted from a robust job placement service, or found employment at TVS.”
As a proud member of the Brevard and Transylvania County communities, TVS is committed to setting a high standard as a fully integrated and inclusive workplace as they continue to amplify voices for disability advocacy.