Here are a few sample letters to Governor Bob Riley.†
These are letters that vendors or relatives have already written and mailed to the Governor.† You may use these letters as a template to write the Governor yourself!†
Thank you for you support!!!!
July 27, 2008†
108 Ridgeview Road
Talladega, Alabama 35160
Honorable Governor Bob Riley
600 Dexter Avenue
Montgomery, Alabama 36130-2751
Dear Governor Riley,
My name is David Talley.† I have been visually impaired since birth.† My best-corrected vision† (one eye only) is only 1/10th that of normal vision.† I am totally blind in the other eye.† I have been with the Business Enterprise Program 28 years; 24 of these years have been with the Department of Corrections.†† Presently, my location is at Childersburg Work Release.†† I have supported a wife and two children during this period of time, and presently, I am buying a home.†† If Commissioner Allen succeeds, it will put 24 blind vendors out of business.† It will dramatically affect their lives as well as the lives of their employees.† These 24 vendors represent 20% of this programís vendors.†† Blind people continue to have the highest rate of unemployment of all disabled persons.†† The Business Enterprise Program has consistently provided the means for business minded blind adults to be able to operate their own business, thereby allowing them to fulfill goals and dreams that would otherwise not have been attainable.†† The Business Enterprise Program is by far the most successful program of its kind, not only in the state of Alabama, but also throughout the nation.†† I have a greater fear of losing this program than of losing my sight.††† If we lose the Department of Correction Facilities, what will stop other State Agencies from doing the same thing?†††
Governor Riley, since 1974 every governor has openly supported us. Please donít turn your back on the blind now.
Governor Bob Riley
600 Dexter Avenue
Montgomery, Alabama 36130
Dear Governor Riley,
My name is Louis Souleotes. I am a 66-year-old blind vendor working through the State
of Alabamaís Business Enterprise Program for over 15 years. Born and raised in
Birmingham, 1 currently live in Ashville where I operate the vending facilities at the
North and Southbound rest stops about mile each direction from the Ashville exit on
Interstate 59. I am a hard worker and make a good living here and it is due in no small
part to BEP,
I have always considered myself a worker. ln my years before I lost my vision I worked
in restaurants and even ran my own cafe in Birmingham. After I lost my vision due to a
hereditary disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa (a deterioration of the retina) I began
working in the vending industry. I had many vending routes through the years and I
managed a myriad of different types of machines such as beverage, snack, sandwich, hot
meal. dollar changers. etc.
In the late 70's I wanted a change of pace. I sold my vending route and moved to
Cropwell (close to Pell City, Alabama) and purchased a small grocery store on Logan
Martin Dam Road. It vas a small little venture but it allowed me to live in the country
and enjoy a slower living which is what I thought I wanted at the time, After a few years,
however, it became clear that, as wonderful as country living turned out to be, there was
no way I was going to be able to provide for my family on a long term basis.
So, I went back to work. I started working at the Industries for the Blind in Talladega
Cutting paper for $3.35 an hour. It was along commute from Cropwell but it was good to
Get back to work in an industrial atmosphere, something I was very familiar with through
my vending experience years earlier. I worked hard and always tried to increase my
production to show my supervisor that I could handle responsibility and perhaps get a
shot at earning more money. For my efforts was named Blind Worker of the Year for
the State of Alabama. I went to Washington D.C. where I met then president Ronald
Regan. It was also during this trip that I met someone that I still count among my friends,
Dr. Jack Hawkins. It was really a highlight of my life.
When I returned I quickly realized that this was not the type of job that was going to put
me on the fast track to earning a respectable living for my family. I was given a $.25 per
hour raise. It was time for a change and that is the direction I went, That was when my
wife and I started a business selling brooms and mops across the state. We made a good
living. It was good to be out on the road and meeting folks all over the state but after a
few years even that turned out to be not a long term solution for the income needs of my
It was then that I found BEP. I went back to school in Talledega to learn all facets of how to
run a vending business; maintenance, purchasing, customer service, profit and
loss, etc. Since that time I have really been able to realize my potential and earn a
respectable living of which I am very proud. l even found myself back to the country
living that I always idealized. I am successful thanks to BEP and the opportunity it
provided me to realize all my potential.
I am writing you this letter today because of what I fear may be the beginning of the end
for BEP and the Randolf Sheppard Act from which the program was inspired. As I write
this the Department of Corrections of the State of Alabama is considering changing their
policy of allowing BEP to run their vending facilities. lf this happens there are 24 blind
vendors, their families and employees who will be directly affected. In a stroke of a pen
24 of my colleagues could have their careers taken from them, reducing them from proud,
taxpaying contributors to Alabama's economy to welfare recipients. I know these
people. They are as good as you and I are. Please Governor Riley, help us keep the State
of Alabama friendly to handicapped Americans and support our efforts in maintaining the
employment opportunities that we worked so hard to achieve. We want no charity.† We
want to work.
Thank you very much for your attention.† If you ever find yourself on I 59 North or South,
please stop by the Ashville Rest Stop a have a look at how we keep our facilities. They
are second to none.
Governor Bob Riley
600 Dexter Avenue
Dear Governor Riley,
††††††††††† I would like to bring to your attention something that will affect 24 families immediately and countless families in the future if allowed to proceed.
††††††††††† †The Randolf Sheppard Act, which was introduced and passed to provide working facilities for legally blind persons, is currently being challenged. The Department of Correction for the State of Alabama is contemplating bidding out their Vending facilities instead of allowing the BEP vendors to work them.
††††††††††† Not only will this effect all the legally blind people and their families in Alabama but it will also bring to a halt another program provided by the State, one which so many people have benefited from over the years, and that is the BEP program held in Talladega.
††††††††††† I know on paper it looks like something which would benefit the DOC but sometimes you have to take into account the peopleís lifeís that will be affected by such a change.
††††††††††† Iím sure you have received other letters about this subject, mostly from the blind vendors themselves but Iím not a blind vendor. I am however a legally blind person who graduated from the BEP program 5 years ago. I earned a license which enables me to bid on the facilities set up by the Randolf Sheppard Act as they come available. I have been blessed to be able to work at my church for the pass 3Ĺ years while moving up the seniority ladder. I say blessed because I know the church is struggling financially and keeping me there is more for my benefit than theirs.
††††††††††† Like I said, I have waited 5 years to move up the ladder but if DOC is allowed to open this can of worms it might as well be 150 years because once big corporations get involved the BEP vendors wonít stand a chance.
††††††††††† I write this from experience. Before I became blind I worked for a family snack & vending business for 22 years. I spent about 15 years trading one or two Mom and Pop store accounts to get vending machines in the area schools. Over the years my route grew to include about 80% vending and I had machines in almost every school in town. I didnít mind the competition from the local vendors because I always worked harder and also this was when personal service went a long ways.
††††††††††† About 3 or 4 years before I had to quit work the school system went to a bidding system which allowed for the lowest bidder to get the accounts. I fought Buffalo Rock at every turn but it did no good. I even had the help of the school principals, who had become my friends, but when it was over the school route I had spent years developing was cut by about two thirds.
††††††††††† Iím sure they made a few more dollars going with Buffalo Rock because big corporations can show a loss the first year are two while getting the bids and then go up on their price after they run everyone else away and like they are trying to do now they affected several families then too. Two years after I was forced to quit work, due to my failing eye sight, the Family I was working for closed the doors on their Vending business.
Please Governor, donít let DOC go forward with this because I can assure you if BEP loses these accounts it will have a ripple affect with grave consequences for far too many people.
The BEP Vendors are hard working Alabamians who arenít looking for a handout but they are individuals, unlike the big corporation, who desperately need someone to stand up for them.
Dear Governor Riley,
I am a blind manager with the Business Enterprise Program for the Blind.
I have been working at the Decatur Work Release for 5 years. Recently I
have learned the Department of Corrections wants to take my job and
23 other blind managers at other D.O.C locations. Not only will this make
difficulty for ourselves but also, for our employees, families and etc. It will
be extremely difficult for us to find employment. Governor Riley, you have
us in the past and we hope for your support now to save our jobs.
July 22, 2008
Dear Governor Riley:
††††††††††† My Sister, Deborah W. Osborne, along with several of my friends, are in the Alabama Business Enterprise Program for the Blind, a division of the Alabama Department of Adult Rehabilitation.
††††††††††† It is my understanding that the Department of Corrections is enacting a plan to directly manage vending operations at all state correctional facilities, thereby eliminating twenty-four facilities operated by Blind Vendors at these facilities.† These blind men and women are professionals.† They are committed to providing quality service and products to their customers.† These managers are highly trained, and have several years of experience and are continually attending seminars and ongoing training, to maintain the highest level of quality service and providing the latest in product diversity.† These are highly dedicated individuals, totally committed to their profession.
††††††††††† An action of this nature on the part of the Department of Corrections would severely impact the Alabama Business Enterprise program, resulting in 20.34% of blind managers loosing their livelihood.† A 20.34% unemployment rate is a far higher figure than the national unemployment rate.† Further, it is very difficult for a blind individual to pursue employment, as the number of positions available to blind individuals is severely limited by the fact of blindness.† Career opportunities for blind individuals are restricted far more than many other types of handicaps.
††††††††††† On an individual basis, this would be financial devastation for the manager and his family.† I wish you could feel the fear that I perceive from these individuals.† The prospect of loosing their jobs, homes, a means of even providing the basic necessities to their families, is nothing less than unconscionable.† These people are highly motivated, and the prospect of ending up on Public Assistance, is, simply, unthinkable.†
††††††††††† Governor Riley, I urge you, we all urge you, to please step in and prevent this action, and maintain the superior level of service, currently provided by these Blind Managers.†
Linda S. Partridge, Manager
Tennessee Business Enterprises
My name is Cheryl King.† I am writing concerning the Business Enterprise Program for the Blind. I understand some of the big vending companies such as Buffalo Rock and Aramark want to take over the DOC contracts.† If this takes place the blind vendors will have no jobs or places to get a job.† In turn blind vendors could lose their houses, their income and most important, their independence.†† I work with a blind vendor and know how hard they work and appreciate the opportunity to serve others.† I am asking you in advance to step in and protect the BEP jobs as you have in the past.