SourceAmerica held its Grassroots Advocacy Conference June 12th to 15th to encourage individuals with disabilities to engage in political advocacy by sharing their experiences and concerns with legislators in Washington, D.C. TVS sent Lauren Bell, an exemplary second shift Production Worker, her supervisor, Amber Frederick, and CEO, Jamie Brandenburg. The trio spent Tuesday getting to know representatives from other nonprofits in the SourceAmerica network and preparing for meetings with elected officials scheduled for the following day.
Jamie felt the conference was helpful, “It highlighted the need for our agencies to advocate. There have been other voices out there that have been louder than ours in the past, and we have a more nuanced message, which requires a lot more effort.” Jamie witnessed the passion for advocacy begin to grow at Tuesday’s reception where all 50 self-advocates were given a platform to share their personal “celebration stories.”
Lauren delivered an enlightening account of her experience as a TVS employee. She described the significance of Amber’s willingness to customize training to Lauren’s learning styles. Amber’s approach placed the opportunity to excel within Lauren’s reach. Summarizing her enthusiasm for this opportunity, Lauren concluded her speech saying, “TVS showed me I can do anything I put my mind to, and it gave me the chance to do it.”
Amber echoed the importance of individualized training, “Specialized trainings are important,” she stated. “Just a few extra moments of your day can mean the world to some individuals.” Amber also attested to Lauren’s quality work performance, “Once she feels comfortable, she hits it out of the park!”
Jamie expressed pride in both employees, remarking, “They’re both dedicated employees and they are also very productive. They’re just a good representation of who we are and who our employees are: committed.”
The welcome was warm in the halls of Congress on Wednesday as Legislative Assistants and Correspondents from the offices of Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis and Representatives Richard Hudson and Mark Meadows discussed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and the federal budget. Moreover, Representatives Hudson and Meadows each prioritized this opportunity to hear from their constituents by visiting with the group in-person!
The conference left Jamie, Amber, and Lauren feeling educated and empowered. Excited about strategies to continue fighting, Jamie is looking toward the future. Meanwhile, Amber expressed an appreciation for the present, “To see all the groups and organizers there for the same cause, showing the same care and concern was nice. Seeing different people affected, hearing their stories, and learning about the different organizations makes TVS a little more special.”