Stan Baker has been informing civic groups and community organizations about SEKRI (Southeastern Kentucky Rehabilitation Industries) since 2009.
He took to the podium at October’s Southern Kentucky Chamber meeting to reach yet another group, but this time, in honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
“SEKRI, Inc. was founded in 1971,” said Baker. “The mission in 1971 was the same as it is today and that’s to create employment opportunities for people with significant disabilities and to equip them in a competitive workforce.”
Based in Corbin, SEKRI has over 600 employees in the workforce. This includes their seven other locations in Harlan, KY, Jellico, TN, Middlesboro, KY, Paris, KY, and Pineville, KY.
“Out of those 600, nearly 400 people have some form of a significant disability,” he noted.
SEKRI employees make and manufacture protective clothing and gear for all branches of the United States Military, with an estimated total of 800,000 military caps per year.
“Interestingly, if you see a soldier walking down the street, and you respectfully ask him to remove his cap – chances are one in two –you will see a label inside that says, ‘Manufactured by SEKRI in Corbin, Ky’.”
Other items SEKRI manufactures are Individual First Aid Kits for the entire U.S. Army, fire-resistant clothing, one-man tents, and jackets, to name a few.
“Think about that, this is all done by people who most folks won't hire,” added Baker. “And we get to hire them and it’s an honor and a privilege to be able to see that occur.”
SEKRI has recently launched a SEKRI Self-Advocacy team. The team's purpose is to go around and talk to groups about the importance of having opportunities for people with disabilities to work.
Team members of SEKRI also went to Washington, D.C., to speak with elected officials about that very subject.
“So, this group is just getting started, I think they’ve already made an impact and will continue to make an impact,” concluded Baker.
To learn more, visit Southeastern Kentucky Rehabilitation Industries, Inc. – SEKRI – Mission Driven American Textile Manufacturing or call the headquarters at 606-528-7490.
Samantha Walden, Staff Writer at The Kentucky Daily