COVID-19 pandemic response supported by people with disabilities
SourceAmerica commemorates the one-year mark of widespread COVID-19 in the U.S.
People with disabilities have been critical to keeping the nation’s economy moving since the widespread impact of COVID-19 hit the United States.
“For the last 12 months, this segment of the workforce has consistently stepped up and demonstrated its dedication and commitment,” said SourceAmerica® Interim President and CEO Richard Belden. “The work of people with disabilities during this unprecedented time solidifies the fact that they are always essential.”
SourceAmerica – which administers the AbilityOne® Program – and its network of approximately 700 nonprofit agencies have supported pandemic response efforts throughout the last year, providing important products and services to federal and commercial customers. The AbilityOne Program is one of the largest sources of employment for people who are blind or have significant disabilities, with nearly 45,000 employees nationwide.
Nonprofits in the SourceAmerica network have overcome challenges and become a remarkable part of the nation’s recovery. Many organizations shifted operations to support the COVID-19 response effort. A few examples:
- ReadyOne Industries in El Paso, Texas pivoted from making military uniforms to manufacturing personal protective equipment for the military.
- Employees from Virginia-based Versability and California-based PRIDE Industries loaded provisions onto two U.S. Navy hospital ships. People with disabilities stocked the USNS Comfort and USNS Mercy for their missions to alleviate overflow COVID-19 patients in New York and Los Angeles.
- Illinois-based nonprofit agency Challenge Unlimited increased frequencies of “touch-point cleaning” to improve safety at customer locations.
- Despite the pandemic, mail continued to be packaged and delivered nationwide. Minneapolis-based MDI employees supported this effort.
- Palmetto Goodwill in Charleston, South Carolina provided essential janitorial and custodial services that enabled vital work to continue during the pandemic.
Throughout 2020 and into 2021, SourceAmerica has supported its network in a variety of ways:
- The AbilityOne Employee Emergency Assistance Grant supports employees unable to work due to pandemic-related work stoppages.
- The organization’s Economic Impact Payment Assistance Grant assists employees with disabilities who are deemed ineligible for automatic financial support under the CARES Act with tax resources.
- The Personal Protective Equipment Grant allows network agencies to obtain PPE, a critical resource for people with disabilities and the organizations employing them.
- SourceAmerica’s Business and Technical Support team provided industry resources and best practice information in the fields of custodial, laundry, total facility management, and healthcare environmental services.
- Thousands of people from network nonprofit agencies participated in SourceAmerica training classes as nonprofit agencies shifted their existing production lines and supply chain logistics to PPE and retraining became a necessity.
As the nation finds a new normal, SourceAmerica, agencies in its nonprofit network, and the disability community will continue to adapt and demonstrate their vital contributions to the U.S. workforce.
SourceAmerica connects government and corporate customers to a national network of over 700 nonprofit agencies that hire a talented segment of the workforce – people with disabilities. Established in 1974, SourceAmerica is committed to increasing economic and social inclusion and advocating for a more accessible future of work for people with differing abilities. As a leading job creator within the disability community and distinguished as an AbilityOne authorized enterprise, SourceAmerica harnesses the momentum and boosts the capability of its network and customers. To learn more, visit SourceAmerica.org and follow the organization on Facebook (@SourceAmerica), Twitter (@SourceAmerica), Instagram (@SourceAmerica), and LinkedIn (@SourceAmerica).