Illinois is In To Hire A Diverse Workforce with the Support of Best Buddies Jobs
On December 9, 2014, City Club President and Best Buddies Illinois Board Member Jay Doherty and Illinois Senate President John Cullerton hosted an I’m In to Hire breakfast to encourage employers to consider hiring individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn spoke about the importance of this movement of workplace inclusion. Senator Cullerton, also a champion of diversity, signed an Illinois Senate Recognition of the Best Buddies I’m In To Hire campaign when it first launched in October, 2014.
Over 70 corporate representatives attended the breakfast, and almost 20 employers in the Chicago area made a commitment to hire people with different abilities.
Two of those employers, Norwegian American Hospital (NAH) and Berglund Construction, have already hired Best Buddies Jobs participants. NAH hired Duncan in February, 2015 as a Dietary Assistant. From maintaining the cleanliness of the doctor’s lounge to preparing trays for distribution to patients across the hospital, Duncan’s strong work ethic and eagerness to work make him an ideal employee.
Berglund Construction hired Ashaana in April, 2015 as an Office Assistant. Visitors entering Berglund Construction are greeted by Ashaana. Her daily responsibilities include maintaining the kitchen and break areas, filling the copiers, stocking office supplies, in addition to various projects that are assigned to her on a weekly basis. Ashaana’s supervisor says that Wednesdays and Thursdays are her favorite days of the week because Ashaana is in the office!
The “I’m In To Hire” breakfast included several notable guest speakers including Best Buddies Illinois Jobs participant Danny Huff and his supervisor Katrina Smith from Silicon Valley Bank. Danny said he feels more independent since having a job. “I like getting up in the morning, having breakfast, and then coming to work! I’m working hard for the money.” Danny has developed strong working relationships with colleagues and looks forward to their weekly lunches out of the office. “I feel energetic. I feel happy coming to work every day and being around my co-workers.”
Katrina commented on her initial hesitations of hiring an individual with disabilities. “It was the fear of the unknown, not knowing what or who to expect,” she said. But her perspective completely shifted one year ago when Danny started working there. “It is an awesome feeling to know that this job is one of the reasons that Danny smiles every day and feels like an integral part of society.” Silicon Valley Bank values Danny’s work ethic and motivation to contribute to his community in a meaningful way.
The Best Buddies Illinois Jobs staff continue to work with Chicago employers who attended the breakfast to identify high impact roles that Best Buddies Jobs participants can fill. Candidates have interests ranging from office support to food service. Best Buddies screens each candidate to ensure that they are qualified for the job before referring them to potential employers. We invite Chicago businesses to engage in the “I’m In To Hire” campaign and hire dependable, motivated, and productive employees.
For more information on how to get involved, please contact:
Jobs Program Supervisor, Best Buddies Illinois
101 West Grand Avenue, Suite 400, Chicago, IL 60654