Celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month: Best Buddies

October 26, 2021

Compass Group actively seeks out and explores partners with purpose and organizations that share its vision of delivering well-being for people and planet to drive positive change in the food and hospitality industry through meaningful experiences. In honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, the foodservice leader shares highlights from its six-year partnership with Best Buddies International, the world’s largest organization dedicated to ending the social, physical and economic isolation of the 200 million people around the world with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Through the Best Buddies Jobs Program, five sectors in the Compass Group family of businesses have placed dozens of associates in positions with major clients, sporting events and catering spaces. 22-year-old Declan O’Shea (pictured with his manager April Parker) is one such associate. Declan, who is a member of the TouchPoint Support Services team at Ascension Providence Rochester Hospital in Michigan, has a stutter and cognitive impairment, but that doesn’t impact his outstanding contributions to the team.

“I’m a very reliable worker, loyal and punctual,” said Declan, who hasn’t missed a single day of work since starting with TouchPoint during COVID-19. “I’m lucky to have a job because some people like me really don’t have jobs, so it’s nice to say I got hired. Hopefully somebody else out there is inspired by me.”

In addition to his job at TouchPoint, Declan also has plans to go back to school to pursue a career in nursing or therapy. His manager, April Parker, calls him a hero and says working with him is one of the most fulfilling parts of her job.

“Declan has taught me not to put limitations on him and not to forecast what I think his limitations are,” said April, a System Director for TouchPoint. “He just wants to be treated like everybody else, and be included and involved. He is willing and wants to do everything.”

Best Buddies’ integrated approach focuses on developing a successful strategy for both the individual and the business to thrive, providing ongoing support for the associate and the manager. Declan and April share the same Best Buddies mentor, Samantha Masserant, who guides them through interviews, potentially challenging conversations, and growth opportunities – support that April calls “phenomenal.”

“It’s been absolutely amazing working with the team at Ascension Rochester Hospital,” said Samantha. “Just how open they are, how much they are willing to learn, and the hunger they have for knowledge, best practices and ways to be inclusive. It’s been absolutely amazing to watch this grow!”

The Best Buddies partnership with Compass Group started in 2014 when Levy sourced candidates and provided opportunities for employee engagement. Today, the partnership continues to expand. Below see a few stats of the partnership’s growth over the years.

Compass and Best Buddies Partnership at a Glance: 

  • 5 sectors of Compass Group, plus Compass direct hire
  • 5 major clients and several sporting/event spaces
  • 5 international placements in 3 countries
  • 35 national placements across 6 states

How to Get Involved
An estimated 81% of adults with developmental disabilities do not have a paid job in the community. If you are interested in joining this global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendship, integrated employment, leadership development and inclusive living for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, contact the Director of National Partnerships at BestBuddies.org.