SourceAmerica’s 2023 Grassroots Advocacy Conference: Shaping a More Inclusive and Productive Future
WASHINGTON, DC (Sept. 14, 2023) – SourceAmerica’s annual Grassroots Advocacy Conference in 2023 proved to be the zenith of their advocacy endeavors. This year, the conference convened from September 11 to September 14, 2023, in the heart of the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. It brought together a diverse and passionate assembly, including employees with disabilities, their families, and employers affiliated with SourceAmerica’s extensive network of nonprofit agencies.
The focal point of this gathering was empowering self-advocates with the necessary tools and training to communicate their personal narratives effectively to their respective representatives. Through these narratives, attendees shed light on the profound influence of Washington’s policy decisions on the employment choices and opportunities available to individuals with disabilities across the nation.
SourceAmerica, as an organization, remained unwavering in its commitment to forging a future that is more inclusive, productive, and innovative—a future that accommodates Americans of all abilities. At the heart of their mission lay a collaborative spirit, driving efforts to shape policy outcomes that not only generate job opportunities but also foster social and economic inclusion for individuals with disabilities.
The conference’s central theme, “Inclusivity in the Workforce,” resonated deeply with attendees and SourceAmerica alike. It echoed the organization’s resolute advocacy for a future of work that is not only accessible but also genuinely inclusive, particularly for individuals with differing abilities. The event stood as a powerful platform to amplify the voices of people with disabilities, ensuring that their perspectives reverberated across the nation.
Integral to SourceAmerica’s advocacy efforts was their steadfast support for the AbilityOne Program, one of the nation’s largest providers of employment for individuals who are blind or have significant disabilities. The program played a pivotal role in enhancing the American economy, annually delivering nearly $4 billion worth of products and services to federal agencies. This encompassed critical tasks such as manufacturing combat uniforms and equipment for service members and performing mission-essential services that bolstered military readiness.
Within the ranks of SourceAmerica emerged self-advocates, individuals who were employees of the AbilityOne Program and themselves bore disabilities. These inspirational individuals championed not only their own cause but also the rights and well-being of others with disabilities. Hailing from diverse backgrounds, they harnessed their time on Capitol Hill during the Grassroots Advocacy Conference to spearhead advocacy initiatives within their own communities, creating a ripple effect of change and inclusivity.
Adrian Andrews, Vice President of Business Development with Challenge Enterprises of North Florida, Inc., and Devron Parker, employed at NASJAX Commissary represented Challenge Enterprises during this conference. Their advocacy efforts took them to meet with Congressional and Senate representatives, furthering the cause of inclusivity and opportunity for individuals with disabilities. Including in this visitation was Congressman Mike Waltz (FL-06), Congresswoman Kat Cammack (FL-03), Congressman Aaron Bean (FL-04), Congressman Buddy Carter (GA-01), Congressman John Rutherford (FL-05), Senator Marco Rubio (FL), Senator Jon Ossoff (GA), Senator Rafel Warnock (GA) and Senator Rick Scott (FL). In their dedicated efforts, Fitbit tracked Adrian Andrews for 5,856 steps, a testament to the energy and dedication expended during their visits with Congress and Senators. “The Grassroots Advocacy Conference experience and the array of events allowed both Advocates and Non-Profit Agency (NPA) representatives from across the United States to unite in force to share their stories and testimonies with fellow Advocates and Legislative Representatives,” shares Adrian Andrews.
As the Grassroots Conference was reaching the finish line, Challenge Enterprises was honored by Congressman Aaron Bean with remarks read on the Congressional floor honoring the dedication and advocacy the agency stands for adults of all abilities.
SourceAmerica’s 2023 Grassroots Advocacy Conference not only demonstrated their unwavering commitment but also showcased the power of collaboration in shaping a more inclusive and prosperous future for all Americans, regardless of their abilities.