Members of Team BAC joined with representatives from across the state for Developmental Disabilities and Transportation Awareness Day at the Florida Capitol on February 11, 2020. The day brought together hundreds of self-advocates, families and caregivers concerned about the quality of care and services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities as well as those who are transportation disadvantaged, to share stories and seek funding support for critical services.
Terrance Edgecombe served as BAC’s self-advocate. He was joined in Tallahassee by his sister Angel, who is also his guardian, along with BAC’s president & CEO Amar Patel and Susan McGrath, VP of Community Relations. Together, the team met with nine members of the Senate and House. Terrance and Angel shared their personal story and helped explain why BAC programs are important to their family.
For Terrance, BAC has provided opportunities to learn, grow his skills and follow his interests. He shared that he has most enjoyed working in the BAC Production facility, where he earns a paycheck doing work that fit his unique skill set. He also has enjoyed exploring his creative side through participation in the BAC Arts Program. His favorite mediums to learn about have been watercolor and clay.
Angel shared with the legislators that Terrance’s participation in our training and work opportunities have been critical to her as his caregiver. “I work full time, commuting over 1 hour one way. Knowing Terrance is safe and is learning and being productive at BAC means I can keep my job and stay focused while I am working, which I obviously have to do as head of our household,” she said.
In addition to calling attention to disability and transportation services, the BAC team asked the delegation to specifically support an appropriation to fund our training programs. Senator Tom Wright and Representative Rene Plasencia sponsored the bill on BAC’s behalf and Terrance worked hard to seek buy-in from each of the other representatives so the bill would be funded.
“Self-advocacy is the most critical way we can illustrate the importance of BAC programs in the lives of those we serve,” said Amar Patel, BAC President & CEO. “When our elected officials spend time talking directly with our participants, hearing about the challenges they have faced in securing employment and job skills training, they walk away with a better understanding of just how critical programs like our Adult Day Training are to families. They are even more inspired to fight for the funding we need.”
At the close of the 2020 session, we were informed that Terrance’s hard work had paid off in a big way. Even amid significant statewide budget impacts due to COVID-19, our appropriation request was fully funded, providing $199,714 in critical employment training services to our ADT participants!