AbilityOne Representatives Attend Grassroots Advocacy Conference

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.


Josh Author Photo

Written By: Josh Meyer

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Spread the Word to End the Word

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spread the Word to End the Word is an ongoing effort by Special Olympics, Best Buddies and our community supporters, like Goodwill, to inspire respect and acceptance through raising the consciousness of society about the R-word and how hurtful words and disrespect can be toward people with intellectual disabilities.

Using the term retard or retarded belittles people with intellectual disabilities. Spread the Word to End the Word is a day dedicated to educating people about the negative impact the “r” word has. By eliminating the “r” word from our culture, we can build a more inclusive and caring community.

March 1, 2017  all Goodwill locations will participate and advocate for eliminating the “r” word for our vocabulary.

Goodwill Impact 2016

  •  Goodwill’s Work Experience program enrolled 249 special education high school students from local high schools
  • Work Experience students earned a total of $279,820.25 in wages while gaining hands-on experience in a workplace setting
  • Work Experience is housed at nine locations throughout the Metro area
  • Our AbilityOne contract employs 122 individuals, 96 of which who identify as having a disability
  • AbilityOne employees service over 1.2 million square feet of property in federal buildings located in Omaha, Lincoln and
    Grand Island

Respectful and inclusive language is essential to the movement for the dignity and humanity of people with intellectual disabilities. However, much of society does not recognize the hurtful, dehumanizing and exclusive effects of the R-word.

Language affects attitudes. Attitudes impact actions. Make your pledge for #Respect today at www.R-word.org.

 

 

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National Disability Employement Awarness Month!

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). The purpose is to educate others about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. Held annually, National Disability Employment Awareness Month is led by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy.

Accord2016posterenglishing to Department of Labor statistics, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities is twice that of the general population, and they are also nearly three times more likely to
live in poverty than those without disabilities. These are issues Goodwill is working hard to eliminate everyday through our Mission Advancement programs, specifically AbilityOne and Work Experience. We are all intimidated by things we do not know. Disability is a common experience that we all share. However, without an understanding of disability, we may have difficulty capitalizing on the talents of people with disabilities.

The Job Accommodation Network (AskJAN.org) is an information resource which helps develop a more inclusive workplace for individuals with disabilities, and can help develop skills to more effectively communicate at work with people with disabilities.

When working with people with disabilities, the primary emphasis is to insure everyone focuses on abilities. After all, it is abilities and productivity that matter at work.

 

Here are a few helpful hints from AskJan when working with a person with a disability:
• Be considerate of the extra time it may take a person with a disability to walk, talk, write or perform a task.
• Smile and look a person with a disability in the eyes, as you would with anyone else.
• Talk directly to the person with a disability, not their companion, assistant or sign language interpreter.
• Watch your language – use people first language. Only mention a disability if it is essential to a conversation.
• Sit down when speaking for more than a few minutes with a person who uses a wheelchair so you are at eye level.
• Extend your hand to shake if that is what you normally do. A person who cannot shake hands will let you know.
• Don’t be afraid to say that you do not understand. Listen, observe body language, paraphrase, clarify, summarize and show you are eager to understand.
• Ask the person first – before assisting or advocating for a person, always ask if and how you can help.
• Ask the person what they think will work to overcome a workplace challenge before deciding on an accommodation.
• Respect personal space as you would with anyone else.
• Do not treat people like they are less than.
• If a person is in crisis, ask what you can do to help.

All play an important part in fostering a more inclusive workforce, one where every person is recognized for his or her abilities — every day of every month.

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Congressman Brad Ashford Becomes AbilityOne Champion

Congressman Ashford meets with AbilityOne employees in Washington D.C. and Omaha

Congressman Ashford meets with AbilityOne employees in Washington D.C. and Omaha

Today, we recognize and congratulate Congressman Brad Ashford on becoming the first AbilityOne Champion in Nebraska’s current Congressional Delegation.

An AbilityOne Champion is a congressperson that has pledged to support the important job opportunities created by  AbilityOne contracts.  These contracts create employment for thousands of people with disabilities nationwide, while providing important services to the federal government.

There are four steps one must take in order to become a Champion. They are:

  • Visit an AbilityOne site
  • Meet with an AbilityOne program participant in your Washington D.C. or local office
  • Use AbilityOne products in your offices
  • Advocate for AbilityOne on the floor of the House or Senate, on Social Media, or through a letter

Goodwill Omaha operates AbilityOne programs at five different sites throughout the state, from Offutt Air Force Base to the VA Hospital in Grand Island.  This spring, Congressman Ashford visited our AbilityOne site at the Zorinsky Federal building in Omaha.  During his time there, he met a number of Goodwill employees who have had their lives changed through their work with AbilityOne.

Thanks again to Congressman Ashford for showing support of AbilityOne and employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

You can learn more about the AbilityOne program here: http://www.abilityone.org/.

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Honoring Those Who Have Served

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The U.S. Veterans Administration notes that 22 million veterans have reintegrated back into civilian life since World War I. That reintegration often proves difficult for veterans as they face numerous challenges, including finding meaningful employment to support themselves and their families. They lack the skills, education and credentials for jobs in the current marketplace. Many also have physical and emotional disabilities, including post-traumatic stress disorder. Still others face non-work-related challenges such as lack of health care, child care, housing and transportation.

At Goodwill Omaha, we strive to streamline re-entry and reduce the stressors of an already challenging time in the lives of returning military members. Many veterans who approach Goodwill for career services are surprised to find that they can gain much more than just job search assistance.

Goodwill Omaha employs veterans throughout our retail, employment and training, contracts and administrative divisions.

At our October Town Hall, we honored 18 of those veterans. Goodwill employees who have served in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard were given plaques and gift cards as a small token of our appreciation for their dedicated service to our country. Veteran Tom Bessey represented the group, telling the audience what his service means to him. He then led the group in a moment of silence for our fallen heroes.

Thank you to all the veterans who have served our country.

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