2019 Evening of Opportunity
On Monday, December 9th Best Buddies Massachusetts and Rhode Island held our annual Evening of Opportunity Gala in Boston. It was an incredible evening spent celebrating the continual growth of the Best Buddies Jobs Program with 300 of our amazing participants, employers, and supporters. The Best Buddies Jobs Program helps individuals with Intellectual and Developmental disabilities to find and maintain competitive, integrated employment. Best Buddies takes a unique approach in partnering with employers, assisting in the hiring process, and providing training and ongoing support to both the employee and employer for as long as they need it.
Bethany Van Delft joined BBMARI to emcee the event. Bethany Van Delft’s is a Boston comedian who has performed at such events as the prestigious Just for Laughs Festival and the All Jane Festival, as well as appearances on Comedy Central and the 2 Dope Queens podcast. Her show and podcast, “Starstruck: Close Encounters of the Awkward Kind”, has won Best Comedy Night in Boston from Improper Bostonian. She started the evening off by sharing her personal connection to our mission with a hilarious story about explaining the value of work to her children.
The Spirit of Inclusion Award, the first award of the evening, went to Fundación MAPFRE. This year, thanks to the generosity and support of Fundación MAPFRE, Best Buddies launched a new Pre-Employment Training Program to bridge this gap and help prepare students with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities to successfully transition into the workforce. Designed for students aged 14-22, this program combines classroom-based-workshops, experiential learning opportunities, and corporate mentorship to help students identify and develop their career ambitions. Together, these experiences will increase the likelihood of long-term successful employment for people with IDD. Since the beginning of the partnership between Best Buddies & Fundación MAPFRE, MAPFRE USA has been instrumental in the success of this program, with 120 employees participating as volunteers. Since March, MAPFRE has hosted four major events at their US Headquarters providing one of a kind experiences for our students.
Next the Worcester Railers accepted the 2019 Partner in Expansion Award. The Worcester Railers have employed Best Buddies Jobs participant, Aaron, for the past three seasons. Aaron is employed as a Public Address Announcer, bringing his passion for sports and incredible work ethic to a team that matches his enthusiasm. Additionally, the Worcester Railers have been a tremendous supporter of our new Pre-Employment Training Program in Central MA. When asked, Paul Harris, Community Relations Manager, enthusiastically jumped on board. The team attended our 1st Career Panel & Job Exploration Fair and helped conduct informational interviews with a student from Algonquin Regional High School. Thanks to the Worcester Railers continued support BBMARI will continue to expand the Jobs Program into new regions.
Finally, the much anticipated 2019 Employee and Employer of the Year Award went to Corey and Sodexo at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute! Through Corey’s hard work she truly embodies the mission and vision of the Best Buddies Jobs Program. Sodexo is an amazing partner who’s recognition of the assets of individuals with IDD demonstrates that integrated employment not only works, but also transforms a workplace for the better. Please watch the video above to meet Corey and her incredible coworkers at Sodexo!
Don’t forget to join us at the Evening of Opportunity next year to see who is named the 2020 Employee of the Year!