A pathway for my voice
Anthony Green is a U.S. Navy veteran who has overcome homelessness and has learned to live with bipolar disorder. He has had tremendous success with his roles through the AbilityOne® Program, one of the nation’s largest employers of people who are blind or have significant disabilities. Anthony was recently hired for an opportunity at Palmetto Goodwill in North Charleston, South Carolina.
When I first considered becoming an advocate for people with disabilities, I was nervous. I really didn’t want anyone to know I had a disability and was quite shy about talking in public. Things changed, however, when I was given the chance to go to Capitol Hill and talk about finding employment through the AbilityOne Program. It gave me a platform that I didn’t know was available. I was finally able to reach people like me who were discovering it was difficult to find – and keep – a job due to their disability. Speaking directly to our public leaders, including my members of Congress from South Carolina, I found out that my voice matters!
After that positive experience in Washington, D.C., I was asked to join the SourceAmerica Speakers Bureau. This was an opportunity that gave me real hope. What better place to start this new journey of advocacy than with the support of my employer, Palmetto Goodwill, and with SourceAmerica, one of the nation’s leading job creators for people with disabilities. I began my quest to ensure my story was heard and that all of my AbilityOne colleagues knew that their voices and careers mattered as well.
Palmetto Goodwill originally hired me as a food service worker. As time went on, I was promoted to cook and then again to line supervisor on the AbilityOne contract that I supported. This was really my turning point, as I started seeing the results of all my hard work. Being on the Speakers Bureau offered me a chance to provide people with disabilities renewed hope with their own career growth.
I have since been asked to speak at numerous events, and even received several awards for my work advocating for other workers with disabilities, including the 2017 SourceAmerica Tom Miller Award for Advocacy.
As I continued my advocacy work, I was promoted again to program manager and then, safety specialist. When I give a speech, I ensure my audience knows that they, too, can achieve their dreams with hard work.
Recently, I had the opportunity to apply for a job at Palmetto Goodwill that was not a part of the AbilityOne Program. It was open to anyone and everyone. At the end of the process, I was the most qualified in management’s eyes – and I was hired. My story is my own, but it is not unique. People with disabilities are seeing the AbilityOne Program as their steppingstone to a career above and beyond what they might have thought was possible. The AbilityOne Program and the SourceAmerica Speakers Bureau are my shining light and have guided me to where I stand today.
I have accomplished a lot in a short period of time - including becoming a first-time homeowner.
Along the path to developing powerful advocacy skills through the Speakers Bureau, I have had the opportunity to assist nonprofit agency leaders in preparing for visits to Capitol Hill and have told my story to federal, military, and nonprofit audiences across the nation. I am grateful to SourceAmerica for this experience, knowing that I have made an impact on the lives of people with disabilities.