Grassroots Advocacy Conference

Each year in June, individuals with disabilities throughout the nation gather in Washington, DC, with family members and NPA executives to meet with political leaders and decision makers to advocate for employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Crossroads Industrial Services has helped to deliver this important employment message to Congress for several years now. This year, Jeff Gore and Chad Weimer will attend the conference scheduled from June 13 through June 16.

Jeff Gore has been part of the Crossroads Industrial Services team for 26 years; he is a product manager and his current role includes customer service, production planning, business development, product cost analysis, quality/safety management administration and more.Chad Weimer has been a CIS employee for 13 years – he is a basic assembler and has been a key employee for several large projects throughout his tenure.

Kerry McGinley from SourceAmerica recently spoke with Chad to learn more about his interests and hopes in attending this year’s conference.

Weimer has been an integral part of helping to produce numerous AbilityOne identifier panel kits, which the U.S. Army and Marines uses on its vehicles to prevent friendly fire strikes on the soldiers riding inside. Chad’s work on the panel kits involved sewing of the straps that were used to mount panels to certain vehicles. Weimer knows his work has helped save lives of men and women in uniform. “I was honored,” he said. “That was my favorite job ever. I loved that job. It was just awesome.”

Weimer’s confidence has increased over the course of his time at Crossroads, said Anne Traub, Human Resources Manager. He’s proud of the numerous thank-you cards he’s received for his work, and recently earned his driver’s license. “His job experience was probably limited when he first came to work for us,” she said. “I think that he understands the perspective of being a little unsure about what he could contribute versus now looking at what he has contributed and being very proud of that.”

Weimer is more comfortable on an assembly line than speaking publicly. But he’s willing to brave his shyness to once again make a difference on the job. This time it will be speaking up as a self-advocate meeting with Indiana lawmakers as part of SourceAmerica’s Grassroots Advocacy Conference June 13-16.

He admits he’s “kind of scared,” but he knows it’s important for legislators to meet the people they affect through their legislation. Weimer and other self-advocates from more than 50 SourceAmerica member nonprofits will come to Washington, D.C., for training, then onto meetings with members of Congress. They’ll meet one-on-one with other representatives and senators to tell them how various pieces of legislation could affect employment opportunities and the workplace for people with disabilities.

And he hopes to find some time on his upcoming trip to visit the White House and maybe the Lincoln Memorial. “I’m going to see everything I can,” he said. “I want to see it all.”