Hardaway's Work With Special-Needs Individuals Has Earned a Leadership Role
Jessica Hardaway has always looked up to her big brother. And now, more than ever, he—and others like him—can look up to her.
Hardaway, an environmental affairs quality assurance/quality control analyst, has been selected to be a member of the Partners in Policymaking group, a leadership position in All About Developmental Disabilities (AADD). This nonprofit organization has provided support services to families living with developmental disabilities in metro Atlanta and Georgia for more than 50 years.
Hardaway was inspired to volunteer with AADD by her older brother, Brian, who has special needs.
"He suffered an allergic reaction to a vaccine when he was 5 months old, and it left him with cerebral palsy, epilepsy and developmental disabilities," Hardaway explained.
Though Hardaway only recently found out about AADD, she has quickly become a staunch supporter, volunteering at special events and serving as their guest speaker. Rep. David Scott, D-Ga., wrote a letter of recommendation for Hardaway after Suzie Fatkin, AADD's development and volunteer coordinator, nominated her for the Partners in Policymaking leadership program.
Only 30 students per year are selected to be a part of the nine-month program, which includes classes, workshops, homework and discussions with community leaders. Partners in Policymaking is a comprehensive educational program that provides self-advocates and parents the tools to become better advocates for their families and for all individuals with disabilities in Georgia.
AADD falls under the United Way, so Hardaway, who was also the Club of Hearts representative for Environmental Affairs, arranged to have Fatkin speak to the group about the organization and the benefits of giving to the United Way. Hardaway—who in addition to her work with AADD has volunteered with people who have special needs throughout her life—also shared her story.
"Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity and responsibility to give something back by becoming more," Hardaway said. "My brother has always been my heart. I have always wanted to be the voice that has never been heard from him and others like him with special needs. I think it's important to find something you're passionate about and give back. The value of a person resides in what that person gives, and not in what that person is capable of receiving."
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