Improving The Lives Of Persons With Disabilities One Ramp At A Time

Here at PORTCO we seek to improve the lives of persons with disabilities.  One small improvement that will make a profound difference on the level of quality employment we offer to our employees took place this week.

For some time, we have wanted to replace a failing accessibility ramp that many of our employees use to access their work site at our Portsmouth headquarters.  The ramp was made of wood and showed noticeable areas of rot.  The old ramp design was narrow and outdated.  The instability of its integrity deemed this old ramp a danger to those who were brave enough to use it.

The PORTCO team was able to combine donations from you, our loyal supporters, with grant funds awarded by KOVAR, and a generous donation from STHIL to provide a new ramp.  With the help of Mobility 101, the old wooden ramp was removed and replaced with a shiny, new, safe accessibility ramp.  Now, individuals with mobility challenges can safely make their way to and from work at the main headquarters.  While the previous ramp was inadequate for some mobility devices, the new ramp boasts a wider space for improved access for more mobility devices.  The new ramp is made of durable metal, meaning it will last for many years – providing safe passage to and from work for many peoples with disabilities.

Thank you, 101 Mobility, STIHL, KOVAR, and our many charitable donors who continue to help PORTCO live out our mission to improve the lives of persons with disabilities!

New Accessibility Ramp After Renovation

New Accessibility Ramp After Renovation

Old Accessibility Ramp Before Renovation

Old Accessibility Ramp Before Renovation

Meet The PORTCO Team: Athena “Nena” Gerhart – Volunteer Spotlight

PORTCO’s mission is no small feat.  In order to achieve the mission

to embrace diversity, erase barriers and bridge individuals with differing abilities to their communities through quality employment and training opportunities while providing exceptional services to our stakeholders

it takes a team of dedicated employees, a group of invested corporate and individual financial donors, and of course, an army of passionate volunteers.

Athena “Nena” Gerhart is one such volunteer.  As Nena had the pleasure of meeting many people with disabilities and hearing their stories of overcoming challenging obstacles, she became inspired.  Through these stories of inspiration, a flame was sparked in Nena to join the cause – assisting individuals with disabilities achieve their professional goals.

Like many of our volunteers at PORTCO, Nena divides her time between her career, and family, and volunteering.  She found the process simple and easy to apply to become a PORTCO volunteer – allowing flexibility as she manages her many roles.

Most recently, Nena volunteered with a painting project at PORTCO headquarters.  Nena, in conjunction with Water’s Edge Church, selected PORTCO as one of their projects during their Love Week 2018 event.  Several members of the Water’s Edge Church community linked arms and grabbed brushes to paint a breezeway at PORTCO headquarters.  Their efforts saved PORTCO hundreds of dollars and beautified a space that many will walk through.

Nena sees how PORTCO has taken steps to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities as well as their communities.  Her passion to see that every person be valued and included in society continues to fuel her flame of volunteerism.

If Nena’s story has encouraged you to donate your time, energy, or talents in support of PORTCO’s mission and vision, please apply to become a volunteer today!

PORTCO Now Accepting Vehicle Donations

Vehicle Donation imagePORTCO is pleased to announce that we will now be accepting vehicle donations!  Donating your car, truck, RV or boat is a great way to support PORTCO while getting the benefit of a tax deduction.  We make the process simple and the paperwork is quick and easy.  Free pick-up of your donated vehicle is included, which could save you time and money towing a vehicle you no longer wish to repair.  For more information on how you can turn your car donation into funds for PORTCO, contact Kate Powell, Director of Fundraising and Grants, at 757-297-0101 today!


PORTCO On The Hampton Roads Show

On July 23rd, PORTCO was the featured audience segment on The Hampton Roads Show.  Co-host, Chris Reckling, interviewed Mark Wilson, President & CEO of PORTCO, as well as Kate Powell, Director of Fundraising & Grants of PORTCO, representing the organization.  Several PORTCO employees also participated in the segment.

Mark Wilson highlighted the mission of PORTCO and how the public can get involved.  He encouraged viewers to support PORTCO through monetary donations as well as the weekly car washes.  Kate shared the great news about PORTCO’s recently awarded grant.

Thanks to a $20,000 grant from KOVAR, PORTCO will soon be expanding services offered for skill training and employment avenues for people with disabilities.  Presently PORTCO helps to secure job opportunities for individuals with disabilities in the following fields:  janitorial and custodial services, personnel and general administrative support services, base operations support, facilities operations and maintenance, systems and network applications support services, hospital and clinic housekeeping and aseptic services, food services, HVAC water testing and treatment programs, grounds maintenance, consolidated support services, packaging and kitting, supply management and warehousing, and transportation and shuttle services.

The recently awarded grant will allow PORTCO to branch into new types of services such as:  horticultural, and shredding services.

The grant monies will also fund accessibility improvements to PORTCO’s facilities as well as the introduction of art and reading programs to provide a more holistic set of services for our clients.

Continue following the PORTCO story as details regarding these new services unfold.

Meet The PORTCO Team: Millet Fadoul – Employee Spotlight

Millet Fadoul is an integral member on the PORTCO team.  His passion to help provide job opportunities for people with disabilities and see them succeed in their jobs has led him to several roles in the Hampton Roads community.  On the PORTCO team, Millet first worked to help provide job opportunities for people with disabilities.  By serving as the Director of Contracts, Mr. Fadoul supervises activities with PORTCO’s AbilityOne and independent contractors.  AbilityOne contracts are a critical chapter of the PORTCO story.  With roots back to 1938, the AbilityOne program offers the opportunity to award federal government contracts for goods and services to agencies that employ people with disabilities.  Across the country, this program has provided employment for thousands of people with disabilities for fair market value goods and services.  PORTCO has worked hard to earn many AbilityOne contracts both in Hampton Roads and across the U.S.

Presently, Millet is shifting from his role as Director of Contracts into a Program Specialist role.  In this new capacity, he will work to ensure greater success for the individuals with disabilities whom he has helped to provide employment opportunities.  Millet will create vocational training and support programs for both PORTCO employees and clients.  These training and support structures will further enhance the success of the employment partnership.

Millet’s passion for individuals with disabilities has not gone unnoticed.  Not only do we value his efforts on the PORTCO team, the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) has also taken note.  Millet was recognized for his exemplary work and effort in employing high school students with disabilities to provide custodial services at the York County Beach during the summer.

After hours in the warm months you can find Millet hanging out with his family, and new puppy on the beach.  Once college football season starts you will find Millet cheering on his Ohio State Buckeyes.

Celebration Cake

PORTCO Hosts Employee Appreciation Cookout Celebration

PORTCO celebrated our family of employees with an Employee Appreciation Cookout Celebration this summer.

The PORTCO community came together at our Portsmouth headquarters for a time of good eats, fun games, and great fellowship.

Keeping the celebration fun and lively, there was a spirit of carnival.  PORTCO employees stepped right up to the ticket booth and played traditional carnival games.  These games included the bean bag toss, and ball toss.

PORTCO Employees at Cookout

Our team of employees made special memories while munching on freshly popped popcorn and sugared funnel cake.  Speaking of eats, we fired up the grill and served hamburgers and hot dogs and sides.  A special thanks to our fine food sponsors for this event – Costco, and Central Meats & Almost Catered, who provided the good eats.

Outside, PORTCO employees also enjoyed a game of basketball and hula-hooping.  And of course, no celebration would be complete without cake and dancing!

Celebrating our warmest gratitude for our employees – thank you for making everyday fun and rewarding beyond measure.

Local Company Lends PORTCO a Helping Hand

When Smith & Keene, a leading local family-owned heating and cooling, electric and plumbing, company, heard that PORTCO, was in need of replacing their much-aged heating and air conditioning system, they were eager to help.


PORTCO’s office building had a HVAC system that was so old and in need of replacement that it was unable to cool the building.  In fact, in the heat of the summer temperatures within PORTCO’s building would reach upwards of 90-degrees.  On these scorching days employees had to work remotely.  Additionally, the aged heating and cooling system had leaks within the coils, causing additional infrastructure issues to ceiling tiles.


Smith & Keene is a significant business within the fabric of the Hampton Roads community.  A well-established local business in Hampton Roads since 1947, Smith & Keene has a heart for the local community.  With this passion for the local community, Smith & Keene was thrilled to use their expert HVAC installation skills to help PORTCO.  Smith & Keene rolled their sleeves up to help PORTCO by  installing a new heating and cooling system.


Not only was Smith & Keene able to save PORTCO on the installation of the new system, there were additional perks for the non-profit as well.  Over the course of the year, PORTCO will save an estimated $36,000 in utility bills.  Additionally PORTCO has completely eliminate their gas bill.  Gone, also, are the days of stressing over the damage caused by leaky coils.  The new system provides more efficiency for the non-profit with zoned thermostats.  Not only do these individual thermostats allow PORTCO employees to be more comfortable, they also allow the building to be heated and cooled with more control and more efficiency.

At the heart, Smith & Keene saw a need they could meet to support the Hampton Roads community and rolled their sleeves up to do just that.  As PORTCO’s President & CEO, Mark Wilson, states, “we judge a man’s character by how he helps another man of whom he needs nothing from and this is a perfect example of how Smith & Keene stepped forward and helped PORTCO.”

Supporting PORTCO Through The Car Wash Program

Car Cleaning Image

The PORTCO car wash program is a great opportunity for many reasons.

By having your vehicle cleaned by the PORTCO team, you not only support the mission of PORTCO, you are also providing opportunities for employees to gain valuable skills.  These skills are not only avenues to earn more money, but also learning to work together as a team.  This program also facilities a connection point for PORTCO employees to be integrated in the community with non-disabled individuals.  While having skills for employment is the obvious benefit for PORTCO employees, just as important is the opportunity for employees to build social connections with the community.

This program is also a great way to support the PORTCO team with a perk to you – a clean vehicle!  Stop by our PORTCO offices in Portsmouth and have your vehicle washed by PORTCO employees.  You can find the PORTCO team ready to make your wheels shiny and clean every Wednesday from 9:00am to 11:30am at the PORTCO offices parking lot.  Car washes include interior and exterior cleaning of your vehicle.  While additional donations are welcome, general pricing is $8 for cars, $12 for vans, and $15 for buses.

Coming full-circle, the proceeds from the car wash program go back directly into the program to keep it running.

  • PORTCO Offices
  • 800 Loudon Avenue | Portsmouth VA
  • Wednesdays 9:00am – 11:30am

Pricing (additional donations welcome)

  • Cars $8
  • Vans $12
  • Buses $15

Giving Back To The Community

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – Everyone needs a purpose in life. PORTCO Inc. is making a difference by employing more than 140 people with disabilities in many different types of services.

Portco President and CEO Mark Wilson and Executive Vice President Belinda Daugherty joined Chris Reckling on The Hampton Roads Show to show how you can help make a difference in the community by donating and getting involved with Portco.

800 Loudoun Ave – Portsmouth
(757) 399-2444

Car Wash Every Wednesday
9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

This segment of The Hampton Roads Show is sponsored by Portco Inc. This article originally aired on’s Hampton Roads Show on November 28, 2017.

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