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Jacksonville Congressmen Honored as Champions of Disability Employment

Challenge Enterprises AbilityOne Employees Present Award

On October 30, 2023, Representatives Aaron Bean and John Rutherford were recognized as outstanding advocates for the employment of people with disabilities by Challenge Enterprises of North Florida, Inc. and SourceAmerica. The honor, bestowed during National Disabilities Employment Awareness Month, acknowledges their dedicated support for the AbilityOne Program, a vital initiative providing employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

Challenge Enterprises, a supporter of inclusivity and equal opportunities, presented Congressmen Aaron Bean and John Rutherford with the AbilityOne® Congressional Champion award. This distinction signifies their exceptional commitment to fostering integrated and competitive job opportunities for differently-abled individuals within their communities. The congressmen’s efforts align perfectly with the goals of the AbilityOne Program, demonstrating their unwavering dedication to improving the lives of people with disabilities.

Congressman Bean emphasized the importance of collaboration between employers and service providers, praising Challenge Enterprises for investing in the future of uniquely abled individuals. He acknowledged the organization’s role in empowering constituents in northeast Florida to become productive, self-reliant members of their community.

Congressman Rutherford echoed these sentiments, emphasizing the significance of meaningful employment in fulfilling the American Dream. He expressed pride in representing organizations like Challenge Enterprises, which create pathways for individuals with different abilities to gain confidence and independence. 

Nancy C. Keating, CEO of Challenge Enterprises, commended the congressmen for their advocacy and legislative support, emphasizing the positive impact of federal contract work through the AbilityOne Program. Each honoree received a plaque, incorporating a commemorative coin and certificates framed and matted by individuals with disabilities at Eastern Carolina Vocational Center, Inc. in Greenville, North Carolina.

Rick Terrazas, SourceAmerica Vice President of Government Affairs, applauded Congressman Bean for recognizing Challenge Enterprises and the AbilityOne Program in a recent floor speech. The AbilityOne Congressional Champions Program, established in 2002, honors representatives and senators who demonstrate a steadfast commitment to constituents with disabilities and the AbilityOne Program. This recognition emphasizes the congressmen’s enduring dedication to creating meaningful employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

The AbilityOne Program, one of the largest sources of employment for people who are blind or have significant disabilities in the United States, employs approximately 45,000 individuals, including 3,000 veterans. Operating at more than 1,000 locations across 15 time zones, the Program provided over $3.3 billion in products and services to the federal government in fiscal year 2018. It encompasses more than 150 Base Supply Centers at military and government installations, further highlighting its extensive reach and impact.

In a world where inclusivity and equal opportunities are paramount, the efforts of champions like Representatives Aaron Bean and John Rutherford shine brightly. Their dedication to supporting the AbilityOne Program sets an inspiring example, fostering a more accessible and inclusive future for individuals with differing abilities. Through their advocacy, they continue to shape a world where everyone can thrive, irrespective of their challenges.