Annette Andrews, 2017 Employee of the Year, and her Journey to Independence and Self-Advocacy

 

Stephanie Clerk (Annette's daughter), Annette, and Larry Gluth meet with a representative for Senator Johnny Isakson. Stephanie and Annette at self-advocacy training.

Annette’s journey began when she was laid off from a job she had for nine years. Through a series of connections, Annette landed at BDI, where she completed a computer class, which was intended to last six weeks. Annette, who had never learned how to turn a computer on in her life, completed it in four.

She got her first job at the VA Hospital working a switchboard, and was then hired full time as a call center representative to help veterans arrange for their transportation to and from their medical appointments. She’s been working there for the last eight years. When her supervisor left, she took on part of his work load and now also helps veteran patients arrange transportation when they are discharged from the hospital. Annette loves working with veterans. She says, “I feel that I’m giving back to them what they did for our country.”

After she was laid off, Annette lived with her sister for a year. “I was trying to get myself back on my feet so I didn’t depend on them to take care of me for the rest of my life.” Now Annette has an apartment and uses Marta Mobility to get to her job. “Just having a roof over my head, being able to have my coworkers and get along with them, and having a job to go to daily is rewarding to me.”

As BDI’s 2017 Employee of the Year, Annette attended the 2017 Grassroots Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C. There, she and BDI’s CEO, Larry Gluth, and Chief Advancement Officer, Lisa Kennedy, met with lawmakers to discuss the importance of creating opportunities for people with disabilities to work and support themselves. On her second night, she attended a self-advocacy training.

Annette said, “I learned how to express myself better and tell my story. They started off by saying, ‘You are somebody.’ When I received the certificate for participating in the class and personal business cards, I felt empowered. During our meetings, Larry and Lisa handed out their cards, and I was able to do that, too. I enjoyed doing that.”

Annette shared her story with congressmen, acting as a voice and representative for people with disabilities in our country. She hopes that her story will be shared with the Whitehouse and passed along to other senators and house representatives to educate lawmakers about people with disabilities in the workplace. “I met a lot of different people,” says Annette. “I enjoyed knowing that I’m not the only advocate here for disabled people who want to work and be a part of this society.”

When asked if she had any advice for people with disabilities on how to advocate for themselves, she says, “Keep up the good work that you’re doing!”

Ability One Georgia Enterprises United Way