Fort Lee dining hall closure stuns mentally, physically challenged workers

Posted at 7:08 PM, Jul 26, 2012
and last updated 2012-07-26 19:08:57-04

FORT LEE, Va (WTVR) - Half of the workers at Fort Lee's oldest dining hall will lose their jobs when the facility closes later this month.

Staff, many of whom are mentally or physically challenged, were told on Wednesday that July 31 would be their last day on the job.

Employees for the main co-contractors, the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired and EC Management Services, will be absorbed into other positions at a new, larger dining hall.

However, thirty employees, who work for the sub-contractor, Arc of the Virginia Peninsula, have been told they will be out of a job.

"They do an outstanding job, they're very committed to doing a good job," said David Neary, who oversees the Arc employees.

Neary's workers clean the tables, wash pots and pans and do general cleaning around the building. His 29 employees all have mental or physical challenges, as do Arc of the Virginia Peninsula workers.

Thursday morning, ten of Neary's employees attended a job fair at Virginia State University.

Commissioner Raymond Hopkins for the Virginia Department for the blind and Vision Impaired said he learned Tuesday about the closing, but was only knew about ten people losing their jobs.

Hopkins said he wants to work with the Arc of the Virginia Peninsula employees to ensure they can find another job.