In a virtual meeting last Friday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Hawaii and Western Pacific Guam awarded the CNMI Office of Vocational Rehabilitation a $86,000 grant that will be used to meet its mandate and for upcoming projects.
According to OVR director Maryann Borja-Arriola, this grant will go a long way toward making many of the office’s plans a reality.
“[About] $50,000 will…be used to buy a vehicle. We only have one vehicle and we are currently running three programs. …It is difficult to do several things with just one vehicle. …Oftentimes, my team would bring their own personal vehicle to run office errands or to do their work,” she said.
“[About] $36,000 will…be used to upgrade all computer systems of the OVR to ensure proper and timely delivery of services and implementation of employment plans. …I know that the computers that we have now are still the computers I saw in 2010… they are already obsolete and broken,” she added.
Other office necessities such as cabinets and surveillance cameras will also be purchased.
OVR, which is under the CNMI Office of the Governor, is in charge of increasing employment opportunities and the promotion of independence among persons with disabilities.
“When USDA Guam came here, I toured them around and they saw everything that OVR needed and we really appreciate their hard work in making this grant reach us. …Rep. Edmund Villagomez and his paralegal team helped us with the letter of proposal…,” Borja-Arriola said.
USDA state director Brenda Iokepa-Moses, who joined the virtual awarding ceremony, is happy about this partnership with the CNMI. “We are so happy that you were able to receive this grant even though we don’t have a physical presence in the CNMI. I am glad our staff in the Western Pacific was able to reach out and help you through this process. It is a great parentship that we are pushing right now and we hope to help you with many more grants in the future,” she said. “Please share your success with the community so they too can come forth and inquire about our programs.”