GREENVILLE, Pitt County - This summer, the Eastern Carolina Vocational Center is employing dozens of individuals with disabilities to help produce and ship more than 10 million batteries to military members and first responders.
The need, of late, has been felt most strongly by wildland firefighters working blazes all across the Western United States. The handling, packaging and shipping of the batteries is not only a godsend to the first responders who need them for their equipment, but for individuals locally in need of a job.
"I feel like I'm productive to the community. (I'm) just a humble guy coming in here to do what I gotta do," three-year ECVC employee Quashawn Brown tells NewsChannel 12. "I don't give my supervisors no back talk. They tell me to do it, I do it."
ECVC is the largest supplier of batteries for the US military and is taking on a greater role in providing the same essential power cells to firefighters working some of the hottest front lines.
"It really means a lot to help what they need especially with the batteries," Brown said.
Where ECVC typically employees 25-30 individuals with a range of disabilities from physical impairments to down syndrome to perform the work, this month they've got 44 people on staff to handle the extra demand.
Christina Bell, ECVC's director of employment services said the ability to give folks in need an opportunity to make a difference for others is crucial.
"Disability is people and it does touch all of us, everywhere," she said. "We all have something to bring. It's about doing things differently sometimes."