By Tatiana Peralta

11-27-2019

Thanksgiving is a time of year to reflect on all the great things and people that make our lives better.

We're obviously excited for the turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes we'll eat with our friends and families. But there's something else our SourceAmerica team never wants to take for granted. That's why we've put together a list of a few things we're extra thankful for this season.

#1: Helping connect professionals with disabilities to meaningful employment opportunities
We love knowing our work creates positive change in the lives of many people nationwide, and we're ready to see that change grow substantially. We are thankful for the doors that are opening through the AbilityOne® Program, which Federal agencies are generally required to use in purchasing products and services produced by people who are blind or have significant disabilities. We also appreciate our existing and future commercial customers.

Employees of our member agencies work in amazing jobs, like assembling flags for members of the military and providing grounds and facilities maintenance at military bases. These opportunities bring meaningful employment to people with disabilities – including veterans.

#2: Giving professionals with disabilities a platform
There is strength in numbers, so we're always working to connect people with disabilities to the tools they need to amplify their voices and advocate for better employment opportunities for themselves and others. One of our favorite annual events is the SourceAmerica Grassroots Advocacy Conference. Member agencies and professionals with disabilities employed through them learn to become stronger advocates. During the event, these individuals are able to speak with members of Congress about how the AbilityOne Program has impacted their lives.

#3: Connecting with our member nonprofit agencies
We are so grateful for all of the member agencies in our network, not just today, but every day! We enjoy supporting them on contracts, providing advocacy opportunities, and interacting in a variety of other ways. Our partnership with over 400 nonprofit agencies allows us to connect professionals with disabilities to meaningful employment across the United States. Our members are also our strongest allies when it comes to introducing policy on Capitol Hill. In addition, we have the opportunity to work with them on campaigns such as National Disability Employment Awareness Month and speaking opportunities through our Speakers Bureau.

#4: Expanding our way of thinking
This year, SourceAmerica celebrated its 45th anniversary! We've come a long way since 1974. Our team is continually inspired to look for innovative ways to be a leading source of job opportunities for professionals with disabilities. As a result, we have developed multiple initiatives, such as:

  • Design Challenge, which provides high school and college students an opportunity to develop assistive technology to support professionals with disabilities in the workplace;
  • Future of Work, which looks at future policy and the conversation regarding innovative technology as it relates to people with disabilities; and
  • Pathways to Careers, which offers people with disabilities guidance on the road to employment.

#5: Raising awareness on Capitol Hill
Every year, our Government Affairs team creates relationships with members of Congress. The AbilityOne Champions Program is one of the ways we recognize representatives and senators who show commitment to the AbilityOne Program. We're thrilled when members of Congress show support for the effort to expand employment opportunities for people with disabilities. The Champions Program is also a great way for members of Congress to see first-hand the impact AbilityOne has had in their local communities, while getting to know the leadership of member nonprofit agencies. Through our collective efforts with National Industries for the Blind (NIB), 160 members of Congress have pledged their support to the AbilityOne Program!

#6: Bolstering the economy
By connecting people who are often left out of the hiring process to jobs, we are tapping into a workforce with incredible talent and impacting the economy. Currently, the AbilityOne Program employs approximately 45,000 professionals who are blind or have significant disabilities. Increasing that number makes an impact on federal, state and local economies, and on the lives of those who can become independent through employment opportunities.

#7: Connecting us with other central nonprofit agencies
We're thankful for our connection with the other two AbilityOne central nonprofit agencies – NIB and the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB). SourceAmerica and NIB support the nonprofit agencies which provide products and services to federal agencies through our networks of agencies, while AFB is currently in a research phase. Although each of our organizations has a different mission, we're working together toward one goal – increasing employment opportunities for professionals who are blind or have significant disabilities. Our connection and partnership give us strength in numbers and allies in the field.

All of us at SourceAmerica are excited about the work we're doing, and we're thankful for everything we have achieved in 2019. We've been able to touch so many lives, and we hope to see our impact continue for years to come. For more information about the AbilityOne Program visit: www.abilityone.gov.