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L to R: Aimee Rittner, Supervisor, Donna Stollings, Advocate, Congresswoman Jean Schmidt and Doug Ostholthoff, CFO. Ohio Valley Goodwill team members, Doug Ostholthoff, CFO, Aimee Rittner, Supervisor, and Donna Stollings, Advocate, were excited to be part of the 2012 AbilityOne Grassroots Advocacy Conference held in Washington, DC on June 4-7th. As part of the four day event, Goodwill’s team had the opportunity to meet with elected representatives in an effort to educate key members of congress about the AbilityOne program and its importance in employing people with disabilities. Ohio Valley Goodwill has been an AbilityOne partner agency for more than 20 years and currently performs janitorial work at the John Weld Peck Building, the IRS mailroom and two NIOSH locations in Greater Cincinnati. As a result of this partnership, more than 40 individuals with severe disabilities are currently employed in a variety of positions earning a competitive wage. Historically, the AbilityOne program was created in 1938 by Congress in order to provide work opportunities for individuals with a variety of disabilities through the Wagner-O’Day act. Known today as the Javits-Wagner-O’Day act, the AbilityOne program is designed to offer employment to individuals with the most significant disabilities. During the 2012 Grassroots Advocacy Conference, Ohio Valley Goodwill’s team members had the opportunity to meet directly with Senator Sherrod Brown, Representatives Chabot and Schmidt and with an aide from Senator Rob Portman’s office. The purpose of these meetings was to educate the legislators regarding the AbilityOne program; to invite them to tour local AbilityOne partner organizations; and to recruit Members of Congress as AbilityOne Congressional Champions. “Meeting with our elected representatives was a very beneficial part of the Grassroots Advocacy Conference,” said Aimee Rittner, Goodwill team member. “I was particularly impressed by the close attention they paid to Donna Stollings, who as an advocate was representing all people with disabilities,” added Rittner. The representatives pledged support of legislation that will enable people with the most significant disabilities to continue to be employed through the AbilityOne program. “Overall, Ohio Valley Goodwill’s team felt very positive about the Conference and especially about the success of our meetings with our elected representatives,” said Doug Ostholthoff, CFO. Organizationally, Ohio Valley Goodwill is committed to on-going legislative advocacy efforts on behalf of the individuals with disabilities it serves.