In honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, held annually in October, AmeriDisability is pleased to spotlight SourceAmerica, a national nonprofit that creates job opportunities for a skilled and dedicated workforce of people with significant disabilities.
SourceAmerica Focuses on Disability Employment
For almost 50 years, SourceAmerica has connected people with disabilities to meaningful jobs through contracts with the federal government and private sector. With 11 million open jobs in the current 2022 labor market (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics), people with disabilities are a largely untapped and valuable talent pool.
Throughout October, SourceAmerica will focus on the theme announced by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy – “Disability: Part of the Equity Equation.” More than 70% of working-age people with disabilities are left out of the workforce and the need to create more access to employment opportunities is paramount.
“When the economy is more inclusive, it’s healthier, more productive and transformative,” said SourceAmerica President and CEO Richard Belden. “We want to lower the unemployment rate for people with disabilities while creating jobs with stability, competitive wages and advancement potential to build careers.”
Employers of all sizes and in all industries are encouraged throughout October (and beyond) to recognize the value employees with disabilities bring to the U.S. economy and workforce. SourceAmerica will continue to amplify the voices of people with disabilities and highlight how their perspectives and experiences enrich the American workforce. As an advocate for herself and others, Customer Care Representative Katie Galloway wants employers to know that “people with disabilities are just as ambitious, capable and hardworking as people without disabilities.”
Advancing Disability Employment Opportunities
Galloway, an Arkansas resident, works for InspiriTec, an IT social enterprise and one of the nearly 400 AbilityOne authorized providers in the SourceAmerica network. The AbilityOne Program is one of the nation’s largest sources of employment for people who are blind or have significant disabilities. There are approximately 36,000 AbilityOne employees in the SourceAmerica network.
In her role, Galloway assists service members in various subject areas including retirements, Combat-Related Special Compensation, evaluations, promotions and awards.
Before coming to work for InspiriTec, Katie said, “I didn’t feel like a productive member of society. I woke up and would do things around the house, but I missed being part of something bigger.”
Galloway experienced a catastrophic spinal cord injury in a 2013 car accident. She had to relearn everything she knew, from getting dressed and cooking and cleaning to driving an adaptive vehicle, and how to navigate the healthcare system. Galloway confirmed the personal importance of her AbilityOne job.
“I have connected with co-workers and have a more extensive support system. It’s allowed me to be productive, have a routine and provide better support to my family,” she said.
Her biggest goal is to ensure her three daughters graduate from college and find careers as meaningful to them as her AbilityOne job is to her. In Galloway’s five years with InspiriTec, she was celebrated as a customer care representative of the month, became a trainer within one year of her hiring, and delivered remarks to members of Congress and their staff as a self-advocate.
As an advocate for herself and others, Galloway asserts that people with disabilities are accustomed to adapting. She said, “We are also very flexible when things get thrown our way as we are used to figuring out new or different ways to accomplish things.”