Self-advocates across Georgia work and contribute to their communities as individual citizens and as members of the growing self-advocacy network, Uniting for Change. When we focus on how everyone has something to contribute, we find ways for people to find and share their gifts and talents.
Everyone has something to offer and can contribute when given the opportunity and/or provided with the supports needed. The many ways we contribute to our jobs, our neighborhoods, with our friends and families, and around our communities must be recognized and celebrated.
In this article you will hear from four self-advocates who make a difference in their communities in many ways.
My name is Sheila Jeffery. I work at Burger King in Union City, Georgia. I work as a cashier, I take food orders, and I bag orders for the customers. I also clean the lobbies and the bathrooms. I love my job and it’s going well. I have a daughter who is almost 11 years old, and she keeps me busy. I am a founding member in the Leadership Collective of Uniting for Change and believe that learning about self-advocacy has helped me speak up better for myself and have more confidence. I understand my rights and responsibilities as a person with a disability and will continue to make sure my voice is heard.
My name is Thomas Fewell and I live in Clarkesville, Georgia. I was walking home from my job at Ingles one day and I noticed water pouring out into a yard. I knew it was not right, so I went to the door to inform the homeowner of the leak. This was the start of a friendship with Buddy, as he told me I was an honest and helpful man. He hired me to cut his grass and I checked on him and his elderly wife whenever I could. After Buddy died, I went to pay my respects and found out he left me some of his hats and walking sticks. That is why I’m here, to help as many people as I can. I will miss my friend. I have learned that to be a self-advocate means to rise up and speak out. I am working to be a manager at Ingles. I have big dreams.
My name is Quentin Jackson and I am a self-advocate in Tifton, GA. I contribute to my community in many ways as an employee, team member, community advocate and friend. Currently, I work in information technology, (IT), which means I help people with their electronics, emails, and other things related to technology. I am paid as an IT Consultant for Sangha Unity Network (SUN). I also help out with Uniting for Change Self-Advocacy Area Network meetings. I am the producer of Community Strong every Monday, which is a social hour about connecting, learning, and spending time with each other. We have a video, song, and a word of the week we pick out and discuss. We have a lot of fun. Other activities I am involved in include being the vice president of the Aktion Club in Tifton, where in a couple months I’ll be the president. I also attend City Council, Prevent Child Abuse meetings and Kiwanis Club meetings. Every Tuesday I play basketball and I also like to bowl and play volleyball. I play kickball with the Champions League.
My name is Jacob Hollingsworth. I am 21 years old. I currently live in Lithia Springs, Georgia. I live with my family. My hobbies are drawing, watching movies, television, and YouTube videos. I even like listening to country music. My job is making my own YouTube videos. I hope I can keep making videos for quite some time. I feel that my current contributions to the Leadership Collective for Community Strong and being a Board member for Sangha Unity Network are important for self-advocacy. I am able to create graphics and share my experiences.
When people are acknowledged and respected for their valued roles like being an employee, a neighbor, a committee member or volunteer, others in the community begin to recognize their full potential, and more opportunities become available. This is how roles and relationships grow, and how we build better, beloved communities. Uniting for Change invites all self-advocates to identify and bring forth their own unique contributions all around Georgia – we believe everyone is needed and everyone belongs.
RISE UP AND SPEAK OUT!
Uniting for Change is a statewide, grassroots network of self-advocates, allies, and supporters in Georgia that was founded in 2019 through a grant from Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities. This network is committed to advocating, organizing, showing up and being heard. Uniting for Change members seek to share information, create opportunities and influence change. Visit their website at https://www.uniting4change.org/.