Civic Groups

Published on August 10th, 2016 |


Nobis Works marks 40 years training disabled workers with Buckhead 50 Club

Former Atlanta Falcons all-pro defensive back Tommy Nobis can be found the second Tuesday of most months at a meeting of the Buckhead 50 Club. But Tuesday night (Aug. 9) was special—the meeting was all about Nobis Works, the vocational-training nonprofit that he founded and bears his name.

Nobis Works leaders (left to right) President & CEO David , and board members Lynn Nobis and Tommy Nobis, who also helped found the organization.

Nobis Works leaders (left to right) President & CEO David Ward , and board members Lynn Nobis and Tommy Nobis, who also helped found the organization.

Most of his fellow older Buckhead 50 Club members remember Nobis as the first player drafted by the Falcons in 1966—the team’s first year of existence in the NFL—and his illustrious career, including many Pro Bowl appearances and working for the team’s management for many years.

But this night at the Buckhead 50 Club was about a different page in Nobis’s life as he sat at a table of honor—front and center at the American Legion Post hall at Chastain Park—with his wife Lynn and Dave Ward, president and CEO of Marietta-based Nobis Works, the night’s featured speaker.

Ward told the 55 club members and guests attending about the nonprofit’s mission of providing jobs and work training for people with barriers to employment, including physical or mental disabilities, criminal records and such challenging life situations as single parenthood.

The nonprofit particularly serves people with disabilities seeking work and among its prominent local partners is the Kroger grocery store chain. “We provide real time training for people who need a little extra help,” Ward explained.

But Nobis Works is not just serving the local Atlanta market. It is operating in 17 states and has placed more than 25,000 people with disabilities in jobs over its 40 years of existence. The nonprofit estimates those 25,000 people collectively earned $500 million, saving more than $200 million in public benefits they otherwise would have relied on without those jobs.

He also noted that when the organization was founded, it was common for people with disabilities to remain at home in the care of relatives, removed, from many opportunities for independence,

Nobis Works CEO David Ward, speaking to the Buckhead 50 Club Aug. 9.

Nobis Works CEO David Ward, speaking to the Buckhead 50 Club Aug. 9.

employment and a social lifestyle.

Ward told the civic/social club audience that Nobis Works has $5 million is government contracts and operates with a $9 million to $10 million annual budget. He added that the nonprofit receives more than $700,000 in donated cars each year.

Ward said Nobis Works is constantly looking for opportunities to expand its government and local contracts and is presently working with the Atlanta Braves involving their move to new quarters in Cobb County.

“We’re not asking for any favors, just opportunities to step up to the plate,” Ward stated. “We’re not a sheltered workshop. We are out in the community. Kroger has been a fantastic partner of ours,” Ward added.

Ward praised Nobis and his wife Lynn for their work supporting the nonprofit. Tommy Nobis helped to found the organization 40 years ago, lending it his name and significant donations. Tommy and Lynn, who live in Sandy Springs, are both members of the Nobis Works board.

“Tommy has been there from the beginning and we’re so thankful for his commitment and his tenacity,” Ward said.

The organization holds a “Galaxy of Stars” event in April each year to acknowledge all stars among those who pass through the training program. As an example, he spoke of Café Blend, a coffee

Buckhead 50 Club President Michael Moore is seeking new members for Buckhead's oldest civic/social club.

Buckhead 50 Club President Michael Moore is seeking new members for Buckhead’s oldest civic/social club.

shop in Marietta that is a product of Nobis Works and most of the people who work there suffer from autism.

Lynn Nobis asked Ward to mention Roy, a blind man who has worked for Nobis Works for about 20 years and takes a train and two buses to get to work each day. Roy exemplifies the commitment and tenacity of Nobis Works and its founder Tommy Nobis.

Ward has been at the helm of Nobis Works for 10 months now, following a career of working with several public service nonprofits, such as Big Brother Big Sister, leading a school for disabled students in Jacksonville, Florida, and most recently as executive vice president of mental health and family services for the Florida-based Wounded Warrior Project supporting veterans.

Buckhead 50 is the oldest civic/social club in Buckhead. Founded in 1932, it is an invitation-only club with a male-only membership and is seeking new members. It meets for dinner and program on the second Tuesday of each month at the American Legion Post hall at south end of Chastain Park. For more information, contact club president Michael Moore at 404-667-4762.

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