Partnering to Create 'E-Buddies'
After all, her home is in Miami, where Anthony Kennedy Shriver, founder of the nonprofit, also lives. Best Buddies works to improve the quality of life for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities by pairing them with people without disabilities. The goal is for these "buddies" to develop friendships, enhance leadership skills and explore job opportunities.
As the Miami region’s government and community investment director for Comcast, Jeanie had partnered with Best Buddies to help air free public service announcements about the organization and its mission. Currently, Best Buddies operates 1,700 chapters around the world.
But it wasn’t until an October night in 2010 that the significance of the work of the nonprofit really hit home for her. That’s when Comcast and HBO joined together to host a film premier in partnership with Best Buddies and the Miami International Film Festival. The screening was for a documentary film, Monica & David, about the romance and life of a newlywed couple who have Down syndrome.
That night, inside downtown Miami’s Olympia Theater at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts, Jeanie spoke with many families in attendance – and learned a lot about adults with disabilities.
"It was an eye-opener for me in terms of the importance of expanding Comcast’s relationship with Best Buddies," Jeanie recalled. "The families are so dependent on our services. For instance, video on demand isn’t just something nice for them to have. Given the high need for routine that many adults with disabilities have, On Demand sometimes becomes a vital piece of their day-to-day existence."
Since that night, Jeanie has focused more on strengthening the relationship between our company and Best Buddies.
Among additional in-kind support to continue airing PSAs, Jeanie to date has helped direct more than $46,000 to the nonprofit from the Comcast Foundation to support a digital inclusion and mentoring effort named "e-buddies." The program allows the "buddies" to build professional friendships over the Internet, while also developing computer skills. Most people with disabilities have tougher times finding jobs than people without disabilities, and also have less access to the Internet; the e-buddies mentor program aims to address those challenges by working with companies, schools and others to provide professional one-to-one relationship support.
Comcast also partnered with Best Buddies in 2013 during our signature day of service, Comcast Cares Day. Hundreds volunteers - including Comcast employees, their families and Best Buddy participants – worked together to clean Palm Lakes Elementary School and Artman Park in Hialeah, Fla. "That was an incredibly powerful and meaningful experience," Jeanie said.
"I know Best Buddies is really appreciative of its relationship with us," she said, "and I think what they do is exceptional."