Jenifer Welch, Author at T-V-S Overcoming Challenges | Feeding Our World - Page 2 of 16

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Tracie Thomas — Warehouse Associate

Tracie Thomas — Warehouse Associate

Featured employee Joshua Smith quality checks a Super Cereal Plus bag.

“The most enjoyable part of my job is being a part of the TVS mission. On the struggle days, that’s what keeps me going.”

Featured employee Joshua Smith quality checks a Super Cereal Plus bag.
  • Graduated from Rosman High School in 1991
  • Started at TVS in December 2018
  • College Education: Associate in Arts (AA) from Blue Ridge Community College
  • Professional Growth at TVS: Originally hired as an INTERACT Direct Support Professional (DSP). “This was the most personally rewarding job I’ve ever had in my life.” 
    After 9 months, Tracie accepted the HR Administrative Assistant position before being presented with an opportunity as a Warehouse Associate.
  • Warehouse Associate, in a nut shell: “Responsible for data entry of all incoming materials and ingredients and outgoing shipments of Mountain Maid INDM and Low-Fat Bakery Mix. As well as, moving materials from the warehouse and production locations, and assisting in other inventory or logistic tasks.”
  • Why TVS? “I had gone through VISION Transylvania in 2015 and toured the facility. I heard about the mission and saw the operation. It was the first place I looked at for employment in 2018 after retiring from elections.”
  • Career goals? “I plan to keep working towards using my full potential for the company because I have so much more to give. I just don’t know where that will take me yet.”
  • Previous Work Experience: 25 year career at the local election center working as an election clerk and moving up to the election director.
  • Favorite part about working at TVS? “The mission first and then the people I get to work with.”
  • Favorite TVS memory? “A lot. But thinking back, I would have to say that watching INTERACT participants perform a song in sign language at the Transylvania County jail was one of the best experiences. It was heart-warming to watch the reactions from the inmates.”
  • What makes TVS different? “It is all about working together on a large scale. Each department works independently, together to reach the overall goals.”
TVS continues to surge with INDM production for 297 foodbanks across the U.S.

TVS continues to surge with INDM production for 297 foodbanks across the U.S.

Reflecting back on the last year and a half, TVS has packaged and shipped over 35 million household bags of Instant Nonfat Dry Milk (INDM) to 297 food pantries across the U.S., Guam, and Puerto Rico. This has been in response to the USDA’s fight to help combat rising food insecurities worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is because of TVS’s dedicated workforce that this local nonprofit organization has been able to meet the growing demands of the USDA’s programs and deliver to individuals in need across the country.

“Our employees have been integral in allowing us TVS to meet the unusually high demand during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said TVS CEO Jamie Brandenburg. “Our employees readily adjusted schedules and their lives to accommodate additional production requirements which included an extended period of overtime and disruptions in their families.”

It is because of their efforts that we have been able to rise to the occasion and supply the desperately needed INDM to food pantries, while also responding to emerging requests from the USDA to expedite orders for pantries that were critically low.”

As the pandemic essentially shut down the U.S. in early 2020, TVS began receiving surge order requests of INDM from the USDA. In 2020 alone, TVS shipped enough INDM to make almost 20 million gallons of fresh fluid milk for households across the US.

Now, TVS has shipped 35 million bags of INDM between 2020-2021 with the possibility of more orders before the end of the year. This will make around 35 million gallons of fluid milk for domestic households when rehydrated.

This breaks down to a total of 937 truckloads of INDM that have been shipped or are scheduled to be shipped to food pantries across the U.S. This is over 14 thousand tons of powdered milk.

“This surge in foodbank demand has been unprecedented for TVS. Overall it has risen 60-70% over these last two years, and we are very appreciative to be able to participate in these nationwide food relief efforts,” said TVS VP of Business Development and Marketing Beth Rich.

Prior to the pandemic, America had the lowest food insecurity rate in the last 20 years. However, since the pandemic began, the number of people living with food insecurities jumped by 10 million people to an estimated 45 million, with 15 million being children. This is 22-38 percent of U.S. households.

“We are very fortunate with the federal government’s response to this situation,” said Rich. “Not all countries have had this same outcome, and their projections for food insecurity are actually going up and not down.’’ 

Currently, the USDA and the U.S. government continue to invest in lowering the affects of food insecurities. TVS is proud of our legenDAIRY employees that dedicate their work hours to continue packaging and shipping INDM for food aid.

Jamie Owen — Production Associate

Jamie Owen — Production Associate

Featured employee Dakota McCall drives a forklift in the TVS warehouse.

“TVS is a good job. It has changed my life ever since I came here.”

Featured employee Dakota McCall drives a forklift in the TVS warehouse.
  •  Production Associate, in a nutshell: performs production tasks including (but not limited to) palletizing, case packing, and hand assembly.
  • Previous Work Experience: Previously worked as a Supported Employment client at a local grocery store as a bagger 
  • What brought you to TVS? “I liked TVS better because they welcomed me and offered new stuff to do.”
  • How long have you been at TVS? 20 years!
  • Areas of work? Jamie works on AbilityOne contracts helping package products including SuperCereal Plus and Bakery Mix. The products are used to feed U.S. Military Troops and for supplying food for food insecurities, domestic and international with the USAID and the USDA.
  • Favorite part about working at TVS? “I look forward to the company picnics with bounce houses and food.”
  • After work? Jamie can be found dancing, singing country and bluegrass music, bowling, and talking about the Special Olympics.

Dedication of Avery’s Place

Dedication of Avery’s Place

Transylvania Vocational Services (TVS) is honored to have dedicated its new modular classroom on behalf of past program participant and dear friend Avery McKeller. Avery was both a participant and employee at TVS since 2016, and she was an integral member of the TVS family.

Her smile and energy still leave a lasting impression on everyone who knew her.

It was, Derrick, a program participant who suggested that the classroom be named after Avery. “It was a no brainer,” said INTERACT Program Supervisor Jeanette Wayne. “Every time we say, ‘I’ll see you over at Avery’s Place,’ we’re remembering Avery, so we want to dedicate this wonderful building to sparkle, sunshine, joy and laughter because that is who Avery was.”

At the dedication, TVS participants, employees, and friends gathered with some Avery’s family to honor and remember her time at TVS. The dedication began with Wayne talking to the audience about Avery and her impact at TVS.

“We want to have this to be a place where sparkly, beautiful, shiny, happy things happen. And our staff and TVS, as a company, we’re dedicated to doing that as a company,” Wayne said.

The floor was opened up for individuals to speak about their time with Avery. Several participants and a few DSPs spoke of memories and good times while also thanking the McKeller family for sharing Avery with us, at TVS.

The memories left the audience with giggles, smiles, and loving tears.

The McKeller’s had also prepared a heartfelt speech that reminded everyone of their importance to Avery. She always said, “Thank you SO much. And on behalf of Mack and the rest of our family by naming this place Avery’s Place, thank you for choosing to continue to call her name and remember her.”

After friends and family had spoken, the ‘No Limits’ artists performed a sign language rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and gifted the McKeller’s a hydrangea bush, along with a video and book both filled with images and sweet thoughts.

The dedication ended with a family tour of the building and cookies baked by the culinary team in INTERACT.

Avery’s Place was added to TVS in early 2020 to offer more office spaces and additional room for program participants.  Avery’s friends will continue to remember her each and every day as they enter their classroom and pass underneath the beautiful overhead plaque honoring the unforgettable life of such an amazing human being.

We invite you to read more about the dedication from the Transylvania Times.


TVS participates in Cornhole Tournament

TVS participates in Cornhole Tournament

Last weekend, TVS happily participated in the Rotary Club of Brevard’s first annual cornhole tournament at the new Depot on Railroad Avenue. The competition was a charity event that helped to raise approximately $3500 for local charities including the Transylvania County Special Olympics.

“We were thrilled to have the opportunity to be part of the Rotary Club and the community,” said TVS INTERACT Supervisor and TVS Extreme member, Jeanette Wayne. “It was fabulous and I couldn’t have wished for it to be any better.”

In the tournament, the first-place team was Calamity, winning a $500 cash prize and a $250 gift card to Pisgah Cove and the second-place $250 cash prize went to Blue Brawlers after a hard-fought battle.

While the TVS teams did not win any prizes, the TVS Thunderbirds soared into a fourth-place spot and the J-namic Duo claimed a dynamic fifth-place score!

“It was fun,” said TVS participant and TVS Thunderbird member Josh. “My favorite part was getting all excited and throwing the bags into the holes.”

Of the 14 teams in the competition, TVS had six teams:

TVS Extreme“:  Jeanette Wayne and Rob, sponsored by Jeanette Wayne
TVS Terminators“:  Sam King and Jay, sponsored by Michael-Dexter-Smith
TVS Thunderbirds“:  Brandon Crawford and Josh, sponsored by Catherine Chapman
TVS Troopers“:  Brooke Wilson and Jonathan, sponsored by Elevate Physical Therapy
TVS Outlaws“:  Taylor and Tyler, sponsored by TVS
J-namic Duo“: Jamie Brandenburg and Jonathan Coggins, sponsored by Wendi and Scott Adair

“I really loved everything about the tournament. It brought out my competitive side,” said TVS DSP and Thunderbird member Brandon Crawford. “I liked that TVS brought out a crowd and energy to the tournament.”

The Brevard Rotary Club catered the event with Blue Smoke BBQ plates and celebrated all competitors with black and white tournament shirts.

The event was sponsored by Pilot Cove Forest Lodging, Brevard Academy, Ecusta Brewing, Oskar Blues, and Blue Smoke BBQ.

A big thank you to all the sponsors, players, and donators.