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Codey Honored With National Award For Advocacy On Behalf Of People With Disabilities

Senate President Richard J. Codey, D-Essex, speaks with advocates and staff before testifying to the Senate Health Committee on his bill to enhance New Jersey's participation in organ donation programs.

MOUNT HOLLY, NJ – Senate President and former Governor Richard J. Codey today was presented with the first ever State Government Award from NISH, the nation’s leading non profit contractor providing federal jobs for individuals with disabilities. NISH’s President and Chief Executive Officer Robert Chamberlin traveled from the organization’s national headquarters in Virginia to join officials from state affiliate ACCSES New Jersey to present Sen. Codey with the award for his advocacy on behalf of individuals with disabilities.

“This is a tremendous honor because it touches upon some of the issues that have been most personal to me throughout my career in public service. I’ve always said that an important way for government to help those in need is by helping them help themselves. We’ve made some real progress, but there’s still more work to be done,” said Sen. Codey.

Sen. Codey was selected by the NISH Board of Directors to receive the first ever State Government Award because of his commitment and support of NISH’s Ability One Program and the New Jersey Rehabilitation Facilities Set-Aside Act, which provides the dignity of a job and a paycheck to New Jersey citizens with disabilities. Sen. Codey’s nomination was submitted for consideration by the Occupational Training Center (OTC) of Burlington County, which hosted today’s awards presentation.

“Senator Codey has advocated and voted for state budget appropriations that directly provide training, employment, and other supports to people with severe disabilities. His executive order directing all state entities to increase their annual purchases through the state use program for people with disabilities ultimately supports the vision and mission of the AbilityOne Program,” said Robert Chamberlin.

One of the hallmarks of Sen. Codey’s career has been his vigorous support of programs that provide training, employment and other support to people with disabilities. As Governor in 2005, he signed an executive order directing all state entities to work toward increasing their purchases of goods and services through the state set-aside program to three percent, a measure aimed at providing millions of additional dollars in employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities, without increasing state spending.

Since the signing of the executive order, New Jersey’s CNA (Central Non-Profit Agency) Services sales have increased by 124 percent, and jobs and wages increased at even higher rates. Sen. Codey’s actions made it possible for 2,600 individuals with disabilities to have the dignity of a job and a paycheck in 2007, a 165 percent increase.

“Senator Codey’s support of our CNA set aside program has added over 1,600 good jobs for people with disabilities in New Jersey in the last three years, and the numbers continue to grow. The cash economic impact of each job is over $2200 per year; this is vital economic growth, helping our citizens who would not otherwise be working,” said Nils Richardson, President/CEO of ACCSES New Jersey.

Following the awards presentation, Sen. Codey toured the OTC Burlington, which provides training and employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. OTC Burlington is a member of ACCSES New Jersey, which operates the state’s set-aside program through its CNA Services division. ACCSES New Jersey, formerly the New Jersey Association of Rehabilitation Facilities, is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing leadership and support to members who advocate for and serve persons with disabilities through community rehabilitation programs (CRPs) located throughout New Jersey. NISH is a supporting member of ACCSES New Jersey; they work together to further jobs for people with disabilities on the state and national levels.

Headquartered in Vienna, Va., NISH supports a network of more than 2,100 CRPs as well as federal customers by providing the legislative and regulatory assistance, communications and public relations materials, information technology support, engineering and technical assistance, and extensive professional training needed for successful contract management. Established in 1974, NISH is one of two national, nonprofit agencies designated by the Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled (a federal government agency) to support nonprofit agencies participating in the AbilityOne Program. AbilityOne, formerly Javits-Wagner-O’Day (JWOD), provides employment opportunities for people who are blind or have other severe disabilities by procuring federal contracts for goods and services.

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