The IDD community served by Best Buddies includes people with autism, Down’s syndrome, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, Fragile X, William’s syndrome and other diagnosed disabilities. They offer four programs: friendship, supported employment (Chris’ program), leadership development and inclusive living. The supported employment program helps secure competitive employment for people with IDD.
“We work with our participants, like Chris, and we focus beyond the typical jobs where a person with IDD would be placed,” says Garrick. “We take an individual approach to finding a position matching their talents and interests. We match skilled and qualified individuals with IDD with businesses seeking enthusiastic and dedicated employees.”
The support works both ways–it is offered on an ongoing basis to the employee and the employer. “It’s never a one-way street,” she says. “It’s with the expectation at the beginning that our participants play an equal part.” With his long tenure at the Miramar, Chris is obviously a success story. He loves his work, and, in fact, it’s hard for him to say which part is his favorite. He says that he likes how his environment is clean, and he enjoys filing his new hires and term folders. Chris also enjoys making copies in the copy machine. In his spare time, he likes to watch comedy movies with friends but doesn’t have a favorite one–he likes them all–and enjoys playing with his two dogs, Mickey and Roxy.
Those in the Best Buddies program can be in it for life, unless, of course, they no longer need the support–like Chris, who is “graduating” soon–and that’s the goal. “We’re working to put ourselves out of business,” says Garrick. “We’re hoping to live in a world where our services will no longer be necessary.”