Message from our Regional Director
Best Buddies Capital Region had its best year ever in 2017, and we are so grateful to all of the wonderful volunteers and corporate and community partners who helped make it happen.
We added five new chapters and now serve over 3,200 students within nine middle schools, 32 high schools, 10 colleges. We have also seen success in the new relationships we forged between schools serving students with disabilities and our Promoter chapters, so that they could all enjoy new friendships. In July, we took 56 student leaders, four Jobs participants, and two Advisory Board members to the 28th Annual Best Buddies Leadership Conference in Bloomington, Indiana where they learned how to advocate for themselves and for inclusion. Additionally, we continued our annual Ambassador trainings with Accenture Federal Services, Deloitte and George Washington University Medical School’s first and second year medical students, bringing our total number of Ambassadors up to 174.
As licensed vendors for Virginia’s Department of Aging and Rehabilitation Services (VA DARS), Northern Virginia’s Community Services Board (CSB) and the District of Columbia’s Department of Disability Services (DDS), the Capital Region’s Jobs program continues to provide supported employment services for participants throughout Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. Our wonderful employment partners include Accenture Federal Services, Audi of America, Calvary Church Pre-school, Culinary Services, Inc. for Steptoe & Johnson, Holland & Knight, Rosetta Stone and Trinity MOPS Church Pre-school. Additionally, Audi of America continues to support this valuable program with a corporate grant for which we remain extremely grateful. Our partnership with Accenture Federal Services also continues to expand and together we hosted our third adapted Skills to Succeed workforce readiness training program which teaches potential employees with IDD how to effectively navigate the workplace.
Best Buddies Prom was back and better than ever, with more than 500 adults and 500 students dancing the night away. Thanks to TCMA/Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center’s incredibly generous sponsorship, we were able to host a beautiful event that raised nearly $300,000. This success, in turn, allowed us to open Best Buddies Citizens, an adult friendship program, and we closed out the year with an unprecedented 91 members having joined in just six months.
The Best Buddies Friendship Walk: Capital Region was also a smash with over 2,000 participants gathering on the National Mall, Capitol side, to walk for inclusion. Washington Capitals Head Coach Barry Trotz and his son Nolan again served as co-chairs of the event and also hosted their own team, Strollin’ with Nolan; and Capitals’ mascot Slapshot, the Red Rocker cheerleaders, and 94.7 Fresh FM’s Tommy McFly, our Board chair, joined us for the festivities.
BBCR is grateful for our longtime community partnerships with the City of Alexandria, the City of Falls Church and the Arc of Northern Virginia, among others, and we are happily building new friendships as well. Our Advisory Board members continue to support these efforts, and our programs, by making important connections and chairing our major events. Special thanks go out to the Arlington Community Foundation, the BDH Foundation, the Charles D. and Mary A. Bauer Foundation, the MAXIMUS Foundation, the Merrill Foundation, the Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation and our other generous supporters who allow us to continue our important work. Our goals for 2018 include growing our Jobs program and expanding our services into the Virginia Beach and Richmond communities.