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Wednesday, 11 May 2016 12:04

Mendon-Upton: Special needs students doing important work

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UPTON - In the nearly seven years that Nipmuc Regional High School and Milford High School students have been working to close government contracts, they have returned more than $2 million to the federal government.

Even more impressive is the fact that every student participating in the program is doing the work with a physical or mental disability, but it is not holding them back.

AbilityOne is a "very unique program," said Jim Casetta, president and CEO of Work Inc., a company based in Dorchester that provides training and employment for people who have significant disabilities.

Basically, the federal government has "millions of contracts" associated with overseas wars, Casetta said, many of which remain idle until somebody closes them out.

That's where the students come in. The security-cleared, vetted high-schoolers work part-time on government computers in a highly secure area of their high schools, using spreadsheets and analyzing contracts.

"It's very, very complicated work," said Casetta. "They do as good a job as you or I.

"These kids are making good money ...; learning skills," said Casetta, while returning money to the federal government. "It's a win/win situation.

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