AbilityOne Representatives Attend Grassroots Advocacy Conference
From June 12 through June 15 Nate Gunter and Gary Lane, Goodwill Omaha employees, joined other nonprofits in the SourceAmerica network at the 20th Grassroots Advocacy Conference in Washington, DC. Gunter, Assistant Project Manager, along with Lane, a valued employee, both work at Goodwill’s AbilityOne contract at Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue, Nebraska. Goodwill Omaha’s AbilityOne program was just one of 50 nonprofits that had representatives present at the conference.
With approximately 200 attendees the conference connected self-advocates with disabilities to their representatives and senators. Conferences like Grassroots Advocacy allow those self-advocates to highlight the importance of creating employment opportunities and choices for people with disabilities. This conference gave Gunter and Lane, Goodwill Omaha’s representatives, the ability to advocate for programs like AbilityOne, defend the WIOA (Work Innovation and Opportunity Act).
“This year we focused on encouraging members of congress to increase what the government elects to pay out from .7 %to 1.5 %,” said Gunter. (Lets have Nate or Tobi give one or two more sentences on what this means)
The conference started off with registration and dinner where SourceAmerica CEO, Steve Soroka, introduced keynote speaker David Egan, Special Olympics athlete and advocate for others with disabilities. Tuesday, June 15 consisted of a full day of training Give an example of what training it was. Wednesday and Thursday the nonprofit attendees participated in a walk and engaged in meetings with lawmakers on Capitol Hill. A banquet was held Wednesday evening where Congressman Don Bacon and Senator Deb Fischer were in attendance.
Gunter also shared that because 2018 is an election year, there was more of a responsibility to defend and promote programs supporting the employment of people with disabilities.
When asked about Gunter’s experience with SourceAmerica, he stated, “Being able to see people from other AbilityOne programs was a big learning experience—people had the ability to share their stories and what they have been through and the help that the AbilityOne program has provided to them.”
We want to thank our community for continued support in programs such as AbilityOne. AbilityOne is just one of many programs that help us continue to fulfill our mission of changing lives and strengthening communities through education, training and work.