PERSPECTIVES: Take Advantage of Opportunities

By Beth Beskin

I decided to participate in Take Your Legislator To Work Day because Katrina [Parsons] reached out to me. My decision to attend was based on the fact that not only was I invited, but I was going to meet a constituent of mine who was working at disABILITY LINK.

As legislators, we get many invitations, but we can’t accept them all. So, it really made a difference that the personal invitation was tailored to me, and that I was going to be interacting with Katrina, a constituent of mine.

I was really impressed with my experience this year because I got to participate in a job training skills session. Katrina led a meeting and there were probably 10-15 participants in the room. I was able to actively participate in learning from the attendees, giving them some advice that I think might help them as they work to get a job offer. I thought it was a very constructive environment.

This is a form of advocacy, so as a legislator, it makes an impact when you have a role as a decision maker or elected official. It can shape the way we might support competitive employment or employment for people with disabilities in the legislature.

I’ve been aware of this need for a long time, because I served on the Region 3 Planning Board of the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities from about 2011 until I got elected to the legislature in 2015. I’ve been aware of the disability community and its need for services and for the importance in terms of allocation of assets.

These experiences prompt me to be sensitive to any bills that come across this session as they relate to the disability community and to apply my experiences from this program to my consideration of those bills. When it comes to my colleagues, especially those who have never participated in this program, I would encourage them to meet their constituents because this is someone in your district, and it is an issue that is important to them.

Take Your Legislator to Work Day has been a very positive experience for me. I don’t know if there is a program in every district, every house district across the State, but to the extent that there are constituents who are working in this program, I would highly encourage legislators to take advantage of the opportunity.

At the same time, there is a personal takeaway. Participating in this initiative confirms my prior impression that there is a large disability community here in Georgia and everyone is working to find suitable and meaningful employment. We need to support everyone to be the most independent person they can be and work together to facilitate that public good.

Rep. Beth Beskin represents State House District 54 in the Georgia General Assembly. She serves as a member of the Education Committee, Judiciary Committee, Regulated Industries Committee, State Planning and Community Affairs Committee, and the MARTOC Committee. She serves as Chair of the MARTOC Governance Subcommittee and as Vice Chair of the Education Subcommittee on Innovation and Workforce Development. Beskin has participated in two Take Your Legislator to Work Days.

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Tags: GCDD, Advocacy, Making a Difference, disabilities,, Take Your Legislator To Work Day