VIENNA, VA. -- Robert Butterfield accepted the Pacific West Region William M. Usdane Award on May 26 in Los Angeles.
The awards ceremony follwed the announcement made by the National Institute for the Severely Handicapped (NISH) and Clearfield-based Pioneer Adult Rehabilitation Center (PARC) that Butterfield had been selected for this honor.
The Usdane Award is presented annually to a select number of individuals with significant disabilities who have exhibited outstanding achievement and exceptional character as employees in the AbilityOne Program -- the largest employer of people who are blind or have significant disabilities in the United States. Only five employees receive the regional William M. Usdane Award and one receives the national award. The award is named for the late William Usdane, former Assistant Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration, who worked tirelessly on behalf of people with disabilities.
Butterfield has overcome many personal battles while living with a mental disability. After the onset of mental illness and subsequent three-month hospitalization, he was honorably discharged from the Navy. For the next several years, he performed odd jobs while attending college full time. In 2001, Butterfield found PARC and was soon hired as a custodian on an AbilityOne contract at Hill Air Force Base.
Although Butterfield's medication causes side effects that sometimes affect his short term memory, learning and self confidence, his determination and positive attitude help him to not only succeed but excel in his position. To help combat memory loss at work, for instance, he uses a daily planner to organize and prioritize his day, and he constantly takes notes.
"Hard work and a positive attitude have helped Robert overcome challenges and experience success, showing others that small steps forward can lead to giant leaps of accomplishment," said Robert Daniels, CEO of PARC.
Evidence of Butterfield's passion for learning can be found in the hours he frequently spends at the end of his workday enhancing his computer skills or completing leadership e-learning modules through NISH.
In 2007, while also maintaining his job as a custodian, Butterfield graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in industrial education.
"Robert is always willing to learn and we have challenged him to employ new communication skills," said Rebecca Berrett, workforce development coordinator at PARC. "Never hesitating to master whatever task is assigned to him, he's humble and willing to help others to also achieve their goals."
Butterfield was recently put in charge of a custodial crew while a supervisor was out on medical leave. He gladly accepted the assignment as a learning opportunity and managed it well.
Outside of work, Butterfield spends his free time crafting goods with leather, wood and metal to make gifts for family and friends. As an active member of his church, he volunteers his time singing in the choir and is in charge of organizing activities for the single adults of the congregation.
Butterfield expressed his gratitude for being recognized with the 2009 NISH Usdane Pacific West Award. "The best part about being selected is that NISH thought enough of me and my story to give me this award," Butterfield said.
"I feel elated. It's a great, great moment for me."
The Usdane Award is available to people employed at nonprofit agencies affiliated with NISH through the AbilityOne Program. Supervisors are able to nominate employees based on specific criteria, including the scope of the nominee's job and obstacles overcome to succeed in this position, how the nominee enhances the work environment, as well as specific attributes that distinguish the individual as an outstanding AbilityOne employee.
PARC is a member of the AbilityOne Network of more than 600 producing nonprofit agencies associated with the program.