Best Buddies Celebrates National Disability Employment Awareness Month
Dear Team Maria;
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, or #NDEAM, as you may have seen trending on social media platforms. October 2015 marks the 70th anniversary of this campaign, which raises critical awareness about disability employment issues and celebrates America’s workers with disabilities.
In honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, we are pleased to showcase four of our Best Buddies California Jobs participants in their places of employment;
Christian- Facilities Clerk at Latham & Watkins
Christian has now been contributing to the workforce for over 16 years, working as a Facilities Clerk for the prestigious law firm Latham & Watkins, since 1999. During this time, Christian has helped with the management and preparations needed for the on-site gym, maintaining the cleanliness of all break rooms and restocking their supplies as needed, and assisting the Operations & Facilities departments with special events and projects.
Before working with Best Buddies, Christian mentioned that he had a “sad and unfulfilling” life. His closest uncle had passed away, and he was working a job that he didn’t enjoy, and did not pay enough. Since joining Best Buddies and beginning to work at Latham & Watkins, Christian’s life has not only changed by gaining a full time job with benefits, but he’s been able to impact the lives of many others who he works with on a daily basis. Today, Christian has an extensive community of friends and supports who he has been able to build relationships with through his involvement with Best Buddies and employment at Latham & Watkins. There is not a day that Christian walks down the halls of the law firm, making his colleagues smile, cracking jokes, and brightening their day. His positive energy and optimism radiates so deep, that he was able to get 70 of his colleagues to raise a total of $12,475 towards the 2014 Best Buddies Friendship Walk!
Keyon- Event Crew Member at the Staples Center
After high school, Keyon had high hopes about finding a job, but was unsure of how to proceed. Keyon was selected to participate in the 2016 class of Project SEARCH in the South Bay, a competitive 9 month internship program and partnership between Best Buddies, Kaiser Permanente, LAUSD and Harbor Regional Center that prepares transition age students for employment. After less than 1 month at Project SEARCH, Keyon’s Best Buddies coaches determined that he was work-ready, and helped Keyon land his dream job working at the Staples Center, with his dream team, the LA Kings!
Keyon has been working at the Staples Center since September as a crew member on the events team, and is excelling in this role. He prepares the venue from everything from concerts, to hockey games, to basketball games. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes to make the Staples Center event ready, and Keyon plays an integral role in this. Keyon drives himself to and from work, and has gained a sense of accomplishment and independence in his job- with much room to grow!
Eddie- Office Assistant at Swirl Advertising
If you met Eddie a couple years ago, you wouldn’t recognize him compared to the person he is today. He faced a multitude of health challenges, and struggled to find adequate employment. Then, with the help of Best Buddies Jobs program, Eddie was offered a full-time position at Swirl Advertising Agency. Without knowing what potential that held at the time, this opportunity ended up changing his life. Between restocking and cleaning the kitchens and conference rooms, maintaining inventory, and various admin projects, this newfound active lifestyle transformed Eddie resulting in improved health and self-esteem, and a weight loss of over 100 pounds. In Eddie’s words, “hard work is the best exercise”.
Swirl has given Eddie a sense of stability, and a really, a new life. In the last two years, Eddie has moved out of his family’s house into an apartment in the city, he has met a variety of new people, expanded his network of friends, and has been introduced to many new role models in his life. Robert, Eddie’s advocate and a supporter of Best Buddies said, “With Eddie for example, (Best Buddies) literally saved his life physically and self worth-wise.” Eddie is looking forward to the future, enjoying his new location in the city, and always excited for what’s to come.
Kaytana- Customer Service at Starbucks
Kaytana joined Best Buddies in 2014, as a member of the 2015 class at Project SEARCH in the South Bay. After interning in numerous departments at Kaiser, Kaytana’s warm personality and excellent work ethic made her a top candidate for employment. With the help of Best Buddies, Kaytana landed a job doing customer service at Starbucks! She is currently training to become a barista.This past month, she received the coveted Employee of the Quarter award for her hard work, and received a gold pin and a bonus!
In her short time at Starbucks, Kaytana has already formed close bonds with her co-workers, attending baby showers and parties. Kaytana’s hard work has quickly earned her a wonderful reputation, and she enjoys being a highly valued member of the Starbucks Team.
We hope that you’ll join the conversation about National Disability Employment Awareness month with us, by sharing these stories or your own, and promoting inclusion in your community and workplace!
The Best Buddies California Team