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How this Cleveland pants factory is sewing hope

The nonprofit Vocational Guidance Services (VGS) hires and trains people living with disabilities, who can have a hard time finding work. It has held a government contract for about 20 years, and its Cleveland factory produces thousands of women’s military trousers each month. Ideastream’s Darrielle Snipes shows us how the people making the garments are as dedicated as the soldiers wearing them.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Producing uniforms for our nation's more than one-million-member military is a big job. In Cleveland, Ohio, one company hires people who might otherwise have difficulty finding work.

    From Ideastream, the PBS station in Cleveland, Darrielle Snipes has the story.

  • Darrielle Snipes:

    Like the women who vow to fight for our freedom, the employees at Vocational Guidance Services, or VGS, fight their own personal battle each day that comes in the form of a physical or cognitive disability.

  • Barbara Moore:

    I am visually impaired. I was actually legally — I was born legally blind with sight.

  • David Ogletree:

    I have mild autism, and I have been having it, some struggles with it growing up.

  • Darrielle Snipes:

    Barbara Moore and David Ogletree both work at VGS, a nonprofit that trains those living with disabilities by giving them hands-on experience.

    VGS is currently producing 3,000 pairs of trousers a month. And these aren't just any pair of pants. They are made for the women who serve in the Army and Marines.

    In the basement of VGS, the fabric is first cut into panels to make pants. Next, on the second floor, it takes only 40 minutes for employees to transform the panels into trousers.

    Barbara sews on the buttons, but she also folds and presses the pants. She's worked at VGS for 16 years. And she doesn't let her disability stop her.

  • Barbara Moore:

    Me personally, I don't have a disability. I have a different way of life. When I first started, of course, I had to have brighter lights. They had to raise the machine or lower the machine.

    But when you are comfortable with doing it after so long, you can do it in your sleep.

  • Darrielle Snipes:

    David inspects the pants, and is as meticulous as if he were in the military.

  • David Ogletree:

    I always believe that it is good to help those who serve the country.

  • Darrielle Snipes:

    Sabrina Selinka, general manager of sewing, says they are able to produce high-quality garments by a group some may underestimate, with a lot of time and training.

  • Sabrina Selinka:

    It is something that makes all of us proud. Some of them had dreams of wanting to join the military, but they couldn't. So being here gives them that sense of pride of being able to have a contribution to the military.

  • Darrielle Snipes:

    Barbara says she loves giving back to the women in the military.

  • Barbara Moore:

    First of all, I love parades. And my favorite part of the parade is the military. And it's like, for some reason, I just get so excited when the military comes up.

    And I tell whoever is standing next to me, I say, hey, "I helped make their uniforms." And they be like, "Wow."

  • Darrielle Snipes:

    VGS is working on expanding its government contracts to possibly make other garments for the military.

    That way, it will keep these workers producing quality clothing, as well as potentially hiring more people with disabilities.

    For "PBS NewsHour," I'm Darrielle Snipes in Cleveland.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And three cheers for them.

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