People like me – Advocate David Kendrick is an overwhelming success
My military service ended when I was shot by a sniper while serving in Iraq. A few years later I was working on an AbilityOne Program contract with SourceAmerica in my hometown of Rochester, New York. As I became educated about SourceAmerica and what they do for people with disabilities, I was overwhelmed. As one of the nation’s leading creators of job opportunities for people with disabilities – people like me – SourceAmerica was shining a light on the abilities of this extremely talented sector of our workforce.
That year, I was asked to become a member of the SourceAmerica Speakers Bureau. I was so excited to become an advocate for the right to work for people with disabilities across the nation…people I’d never met, but people like me. I’d never given a speech in front of a large audience before, and this opportunity was an honor.
I gave my very first speech as a member of the Speakers Bureau in Washington, D.C. And while I had previously spoken in front of small groups, and was comfortable doing so, the opportunity to speak in the nation’s capital was overwhelming. About 200 people were in the room and all eyes were on me. I was nervous, but after I completed the first sentence the words just flowed. As soon as I finished, people were lining up to shake my hand, thank me for my service, and ask me questions. Right then I knew the advocacy work I was doing for SourceAmerica was so important.
More than a decade later I continue to advocate for people with disabilities through the Speakers Bureau. One thing that I truly enjoy is travelling and meeting soldiers who are a part of today’s Army. At some of my speaking events I have the privilege to speak in front of active-duty men and women who are protecting our freedoms. Connecting with those who are currently serving in the military and taking in all the sights and sounds of a military installation fill me with pride.
With my background, I have a unique opportunity to advocate for people with disabilities and the benefits of the AbilityOne Program. Sometimes I talk with key decision-makers across the federal landscape, including contracting officials in both government and private organizations. Knowing that I have a voice – a real role – in advocating to these audiences is awesome – and powerful. And in return, I have also been able to take information about potential employment opportunities back to my veteran friends and help them find employment with these agencies. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, speaking engagements are limited and often come through online platforms. While I prefer to share my story in person, I am still able to advocate to audiences right on their computer screens. It’s not perfect, but it gets the job done.
Throughout the last decade as a member of the SourceAmerica Speakers Bureau, I have continued to develop my communication and advocacy skills. My desire to speak about important issues even helped me start my own business, Lion Speaking Agency. I started this business to advocate for important issues that impact the veteran community, including mental health, depression, and PTSD, which many veterans live with after serving on active duty. These issues are especially important to veterans like me who acquired a disability during their service to our nation.
It's truly an honor to be one of the voices on the SourceAmerica Speakers Bureau. I look forward to continuing my role as an advocate for people of all abilities who deserve a chance to hold a job and contribute to our nation’s economic success.