Blind, low-vision Oklahomans contribute to West Coast wildfire battle

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As states like California, Oregon and Idaho battle massive wildfires, they’re receiving help from hardworking Oklahomans who are blind and visually impaired.

Their work is even garnering thanks from the President.

“Within these walls, you see people come in with very minimal skill on the line and we like to encourage and empower them to grow not only within our walls, but if I can set somebody up to work in the public, that’s a fantastic result for us here,” said Matt Harris, plant and special projects manager with NewView Oklahoma. 

That’s the mission of NewView Oklahoma in Oklahoma City.

Photo goes with story
A NewView Oklahoma employee working for a good cause.

For 21 years, employees have worked to build firehoses and more to help others and build a better future for themselves.

“I’m learning a whole lot up here and I’m just loving this job,” said NewView Employee Laquoya Wilburn. 

“Through the support of the federal government, we’re able to offer meaningful training and employment to employees who have lost their vision,” said Lauren Branch, CEO and President of NewView.

When President Biden activated the Defense Production Act to fight wildfires ravaging several states, NewView stepped up to answer the call.

They already provide a large portion of the U.S. Forestry Service’s hoses and are now sending more than 415 miles of them to battle the massive blazes.

“Providing for people that are having lifesaving missions or working on natural disaster relief, we tend to answer that call and with that, it give our employees a lot of pride in what they do – putting out quality products and service in a very timely manner,” Harris said. 

They stand ready to help and do it with a smile.

“I like it,” Wilburn said. “This is a good job and I really enjoy myself working here.”

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