Take Your Legislator To Work Day - Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities

PERSPECTIVES: Profound Impact of Supported Employment

By Blake Hall

When I was made aware of Take Your Legislator to Work Day (TYLTWD), Matthew Roush was the first person that came to my mind. I first thought of Matt because it was he who first helped me to understand what supported employment is supposed to look like in an integrated and competitive environment, like SunTrust.

When I presented the idea to Matt, he was absolutely thrilled to be a part of it. Even more so, his supervisors and co-workers became completely invested in making sure that TYLTWD was the type of event that Matt deserves. Everyone worked together to make sure that Rep. Sheila Jones was accommodated and warmly welcomed, but most importantly, that Matt and his accomplishments were the center of attention.

The event went exceptionally well, as Matt was able to share what his work has meant to him, and his co-workers were able to open up about the positive personal impacts they’ve experienced from sharing an office with a person who has a disability. Being able to partake in such a powerful display of recognition for someone as hardworking as Matt served as a personal reminder of why I accepted the task of being a Career Specialist at Briggs & Associates.

I took the position at Briggs & Associates in September of 2016 when I moved to Atlanta. Upon researching the company, their philosophy became clear: to promote inclusivity and integration into the community through meaningful careers for those living with disabilities. Having worked at a day center for adults with disabilities previously, it was obvious that working with Briggs & Associates would be the most logical next step in my passionate pursuit of helping individuals live their best possible lives.

The position of a Career Specialist felt like an amazing dream come true to me. During my first week of training, it was Matt who helped me to see the Briggs’ philosophy in practice. Being able to work alongside of and help to empower people living with disabilities is what initially brought me to this field. Since working with Briggs & Associates, I have been able to do that within a capacity that I never imagined until being introduced to the profound impact of supported employment.

It is this profound impact that I hope was also introduced to Rep. Shelia Jones. It is my wish that she was able to see that employment for people with disabilities can mean a wide variety of jobs, and that there is a population of individuals who have been historically limited in their pursuits, but are becoming increasingly empowered to enter boldly into their communities to work and live alongside of everyone else.

The choice to embrace supported employment is beneficial for all involved. It gives employers the opportunity to utilize dedicated, hard working and special individuals to their maximum potential, while simultaneously allowing those individuals to feel the same sense of accomplishment and belonging that each and every one of us deserves to experience.

Blake Hall is a Career Specialist with Briggs & Associates and lives in Atlanta, GA. Hall began working in the disabilities field directly after graduating from White County High School in Cleveland, GA. Blake’s experience in multiple settings within the disabilities field and his passion for advocating for individuals with disabilities ultimately led him to the Supported Employment field. Blake is currently studying psychology at the University of North Georgia and enjoys playing music and traveling with his wife in his spare time.

To read more in Making a Difference magazine, see below:

Download pdf version of Making a Difference Fall 2017    Download Large Print Version of Making a Difference Summer 2017





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.

To read more in Making a Difference magazine, see below:

Download pdf version of Making a Difference Fall 2017    Download Large Print Version of Making a Difference Summer 2017