Advocacy At Its Best

On November 1, 2017 I was honored to receive the Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD) Ben Bonanno Disability Advocate Award! This award is given to an individual who has made a significant impact on improving the employment opportunities of Ohioans with disabilities.

My road to employment was bumpy but I made it and now I must say I have a pretty good job. My mission is to hear others who traveled the bumpy path say this as well.

A few weeks back, I received a call saying I had been selected by the OOD’s Commissioners to take home this prestigious award. I must say, I didn’t even know I had been nominated. Two of my co-workers Mindy and Kim thought I would be a good nominee for this award so they secretly submitted me. Because of their efforts, I was nominated and selected which I’m truly appreciative.

There’s nothing better than being honored to receive an advocacy award from a true advocate. I must admit that before this, I didn’t even know who Ben Bonanno was. But I do now.

Ben Bonanno is a former commissioner of OOD. Mr. Bonanno is also a person with a disability and has been advocating for years to make sure his voice is heard spreading the message that all people with disabilities have quality of life.

Mr. Bonanno and I agreed, being an advocate is not easy. Often, I’ve felt as if I was speaking to a mountain when bringing forth issues that affect people with disabilities. But you know what I’ve learned, there’s more than one way to conquer a mountain. You can climb it, dig a hole and go underneath it or if you have the faith of a mustard seed, you can tell it to move. Forty-four years I’ve been advocating and for my efforts to be noticed before a packed room of my OOD peers, is very humbling.

As we chatted, I asked Mr. Bonanno, what are you doing now? He replied, “I’m retired and traveling abroad.” His travels have taken him to Russia, China and even Paris. I was so excited to learn he had gone to Paris because it’s on my bucket list to make it there one day and see the Eiffel Tower which of course I told him. After finding this out, Mr. Bonanno told me to keep pressing on for he’s sure I would make it there one day.

Thanks for the award OOD! I will never stop advocating it’s in my blood. I hope an award is named after me one day just like Ben Bonanno. I also wish to have a happy retirement like him and enjoy life traveling. Something tells me he’s still fighting. Once an advocate, always an advocate.

20 comments on “Advocacy At Its Best

  1. Kim on

    I was honored to be there with you Shari when you received this award. And you made it easy to nominate you…you have been a true advocate your entire life and you have dedicated every day to helping others with disabilities. You know, I want to visit Paris as well, so I believe we should start planning that trip together.
    Congratulations! Well-deserved, dear friend!

  2. Linda Fischbach on

    Congratulations, Shari! Although I have only known you for a short time, I admire your sparkling personality, positive attitude, and perseverance in all that you do here at Goodwill for personas with disabilities and now as a recognized advocate throughout the state of Ohio. Bravo! Bravo! Bravo!

  3. Melissa Fowler on

    Shari, you deserve every award; congratulations! Looking fierce and continuing to make your VOICE heard, on paper, online, and in person – I aspire to be as prolific and wonderful as you. xoxoxoxo

  4. Margie Wehner on

    Way to go, Shari! You have earned this award through hard work, dedication, and persistence. And kudos to your co-workers for nominating you.

  5. Cheryl Wood on

    Congratulations Shari!!! Keep waving your banner, there are many who need your voice to encourage them to be their very best. You inspire many.


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