Nichole Nobles, production worker at the Austin Lighthouse, was selected as the 2020 Artie Lee Hinds Award Winner! This award, presented by WorkQuest during a virtual awards ceremony on September 23, recognizes the hard work, service and leadership of an employee at a Community Rehabilitation Program (CRP) participating in the Texas State Use Program. She was one of 105 Texans nominated for this award.
Nobles, who has worked in the Lighthouse Skin Care department since 2012, was shocked when she learned of her nomination for the award last Fall. After confirming with Senior Production Manager, Brandi Cortez, that it was in fact her name that was called, she felt extremely honored.
“I thought it was just a company-wide award,” she remembered; her face still full of astonishment. “Then, I found out it was statewide, and I was one of three finalists for the award.”
During the weeks leading up to the ceremony, she was interviewed by WorkQuest President, Fred Weber, and followed around by a videographer. The video, which was shown to announce her win, captured her day to day life as a Lighthouse employee.
When Nikki, as she’s called by friends and co-workers, isn’t filling the production area with positivity and laughter from her wittiness, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends. She likes to read, cook and take motorcycle rides with her husband, Ken, a fellow Lighthouse employee.
Nikki also enjoys practicing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at the Austin Submission Fighting Academy, where she is a 4-stripe white belt. “I like how they don’t look at my blindness there,” she said. “I’m just another person to them.”
She uses her skills and love for martial arts to teach self-defense classes alongside her husband. The classes, K&N Self Defense, teaches blind Texans how to defend themselves with their cane and to be aware of their surroundings, “Blind people… well, everyone needs to be able to defend themselves when they need to,” Nobles said. Her favorite saying is, “I’m blind, not helpless.”
Her pride and joy is her 17-year-old daughter, Jessica. Nichole recalls a time when life really had her down. She was facing many tough obstacles, including the total loss of her vision. It was her curly haired, chubby-cheeked newborn that gave her the power to overcome.
“I couldn’t wallow in sadness,” she declared. “I had to push through it all for my little girl.”
Jessica is now a college-bound senior in high school, participating in Navy ROTC, where she is on staff as a Public Affairs Officer. She’s a Girl Scout and trains Jiu Jitsu like her mom.
The Austin Lighthouse is very proud of Nichole and all her accomplishments. Congratulations!
Learn more about Nichole Nobles in the video below.
Video Credit: WorkQuest. Video shot before CDC guidelines for COVID were issued.