Combating Unemployment for People with Disabilities: SourceAmerica Recognizes Employees, Advocates

Posted by Stephanie McIntosh on

They come from different parts of the country, different agencies and different industries, but they all are exemplary representatives of their respective roles within the disability employment community. As such, they were recognized May 3 at the SourceAmerica National Training and Achievement Conference in New Orleans.

SourceAmerica is a 501(c)3 national leader in creating employment opportunities and choices for people with disabilities through a network of nonprofit agencies. The 2017 national award winners were:

Gary Hunter, the AbilityOne Honor Roll for Veterans with Disabilities Award winner, is a customer service technician for Peckham, Inc. in Lansing, Michigan. The U.S. Army veteran with schizoaffective disorder struggled to find a job after his disability was diagnosed. But at Peckham, he’s flourished, supervisors said. He provides outstanding service, mentors other employees and is building a database of information for other customer service agents to access to answer client questions.

William “Scotty” Weatherly won the Evelyne Villines Award for an individual with a significant disability who has advanced to a management role from work on an AbilityOne contract. Weatherly has advanced through the ranks of Goodwill Industries of San Antonio to oversee a team of 70 employees with significant disabilities who manage nearly 60,000 U.S. Army veteran medical and dental records to facilitate Veterans Administration disability claims processing.

Tim Zarzecki won the President’s Award for a non-AbilityOne Program employee with a significant disability who has exhibited outstanding leadership and exceptional character. He works for Goodwill Industries of Lower South Carolina as a food service worker on a contract with Naval Special Warfare Development Group in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Zarzecki, who is missing his left arm from below the elbow and has depression, said he’s forged strong connections with wounded service members he’s in contact with through his work. He’s also president of the organization’s self-advocate program and is working to improve transportation options for people with disabilities to get to their jobs on base.

Joy Diolosa, is known as “Joy to the World” at Powerworks Industries Inc., at Fort Benning, Georgia. Powerworks Industries Inc. is an affiliate of Goodwill Industries of Southern Rivers in Columbus, Georgia. Diolosa won the William M. Usdane Award to recognize an AbilityOne Program employee with a significant disability who has exhibited outstanding achievement and exceptional character. Diolosa, who has physical and intellectual/developmental disabilities, went from rarely speaking when she started her custodian job in 2009 to now being an engaging and positive influence on her co-workers.

Monica Harrison won the Tom Miller Advocacy Award for an employee with a significant disability who has demonstrated outstanding achievement and a remarkable passion for self-advocacy on a local or national level. Once a person receiving services from Opportunity Village in Las Vegas, she is now an accomplished staff member who provides direct care services to people with disabilities. Rising through the ranks of the largest self-advocacy organization serving people with disabilities in the state of Nevada, she chairs an organization that advocates for issues such as better accessibility at the voting booth.

Jim Cassetta, CEO of Work Inc. in Dorchester, Massachusetts, won the Milton Cohen Leadership Award. Cassetta believes work is the great equalizer and has devoted his career to creating opportunities for people with disabilities to find meaningful work. Cassetta is working with the state government of Massachusetts to establish a requirement that any agency or company contracted with the state has a workforce of 10 percent with a significant disability as defined by the AbilityOne Program. He said because Massachusetts spends an average of $40,000 per year on each member of its population of 394,000 people with disabilities, putting just 100 people to work full time could save the state $4 million per year. The impact of this work is beneficial to both people with disabilities and the communities where they live.

Other awards:
RhinoSystems, Inc., Brooklyn Heights, Ohio – Small Business Partnership Award
Black Hills Corporation, Rapid City, South Dakota – Business Partnership Award
Fairchild Air Force Base 92nd Contracting Squadron, Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington – Federal Customer Award - Military
U.S. Department of Transportation Eastern Federal Lands Highway Division, Sterling, Virginia – Federal Customer Award - Civilian
REHAU North America, Leesburg, Virginia – Nonfederal Customer Award
Bobby Dodd Institute, Inc., Atlanta, Georgia – Performance Excellence in Hiring Veterans with Disabilities
Professional Contract Services, Inc., Austin, Texas – Performance Excellence in Government Contracts
Opportunity Village, Las Vegas – Performance Excellence in Grassroots Advocacy

About SourceAmerica

Established in 1974, SourceAmerica creates job opportunities for a skilled and dedicated workforce of people with significant disabilities. SourceAmerica is the vital link between the federal government and private sector organizations that procure the products and services provided by this exceptional workforce via a network of more than 1,200 community-based nonprofits. Headquartered in Vienna, Virginia, SourceAmerica provides its nonprofit agency network with business development, contract management, legislative and regulatory assistance, communications and public relations materials, information technology support, engineering and technical assistance, and extensive professional training needed for successful nonprofit management. SourceAmerica is an AbilityOne-authorized enterprise.

Release courtesy of SourceAmerica:

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