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Breakfast with Champions 2016
Thank you to everyone who attended this year's breakfast!

Featured (left to right): Dr. Cassie S. Mitchell, Gloria Richardson, Leah Davenport
Photo Credit:  Kat Goduco

On March 2, BDI friends and supporters gathered at the Cobb Galleria Centre to celebrate another year of creating employment opportunities for people with disabilities and disadvantages. 

Autotrader was Presenting Sponsor of the event, and BDI recognized Gloria Richardson as Employee of the Year, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta as Employer of the Year, and Dr. Cassie S. Mitchell as the Circle of Excellence award recipient. Visit BDI's YouTube page to watch videos about the honorees.

Bringing Company Values to Life: Autotrader and BDI
Part One: Eliminating Barriers to Employment

Autotrader staff at Breakfast with Champions; Photo Credit:  Kat Goduco

People with disabilities can and want to work, yet many face significant barriers to employment. In 2014, just 34.4 % of US civilians with disabilities were employed, while the rate of employment for people without disabilities was 75.4 %. Many people with disabilities lack the social and career networks that yield job opportunities, and others need to gain marketable skills. 

John Wilson, a former BDI client, was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome as a toddler. He had an early talent for reading and writing, but he struggled to develop interpersonal communication skills. As an adult, John continues to have a hard time establishing interpersonal relationships. "I look at other people communicating, and it seems to be so natural and easy for them," John explains. "I look at that, and I think, I don't know how to imitate that. I'll approach somebody, I'll say hello, and I'm not sure what to say next. I'm not sure how to put a smile on their face."

When he came to BDI for job connections services, John already had a bachelor's degree in economics and an interest in data analysis. However, he had trouble with the interview portion of the job application process. A BDI employment specialist worked with John to develop his interview skills and identify his key strengths. When an internship opportunity became available at Autotrader, John was excited about what he could bring to the table. John impressed his supervisors so much that they worked with BDI staff to create a full-time position that would draw on John's background in data management. In 2012, John joined the Autotrader team as a Business Operations Assistant. In 2015, John was promoted to Business Operations Specialist.

John says that having a job at Autotrader has changed his life in ways he couldn't predict. His responsibilities at work have given him new confidence in his abilities, and economic self-sufficiency has opened the door for John to have new experiences: "Working at Autotrader has changed my life in ways I wasn't expecting. I realize how trustworthy I am, because my work is trusted so much by my managers and supervisors. Having a job where I can pay bills and take care of myself has allowed me the opportunity to travel, have new experiences, meet new people, and learn more about who I am. I have to thank BDI for helping me find those opportunities to develop as an overall person."
Volunteer Highlight
IBERIABANK Staff Lead Workshops for BDI Clients

"I support BDI because everyone has something valuable to contribute." - IBERIABANK staff at Breakfast with Champions Photo Credit:  Kat Goduco

This spring, volunteers from IBERIABANK visited BDI's Atlanta campus to teach financial literacy classes. Topics covered include writing a monthly budget, putting money in savings, and building a good credit history. Financial literacy is an important step on the path to self-sufficiency for BDI clients, and we're grateful to IBERIABANK volunteers for sharing their expertise!

An Ear to Listen
Gloria Richardson, 2016  Employee of the Year

Photo Credit:  Kat Goduco
"It's a good opportunity to work for BDI," says Gloria Richardson, 2016 Employee of the Year. "It's an environment where you get to work with a team of people who are just like a family."

As the team lead for BDI's facility management services contracts with FEMA and Fort Gillem, Gloria manages a team of up to six janitorial staff. Her duties include making sure her teammates have the supplies they need and ensuring her team provides the best possible service to BDI's customers.

At first, Gloria said she faced self-doubt about whether she could do the job and insecurity about being around so many new people. However, Gloria conquered her fears when a military servicewoman at one of the work sites reassured her that everyone at the site was just like her, and she could talk to them in the same way as she would talk to family or friends. 

Today, Gloria enjoys starting her workday by saying good morning to everyone, and she is beloved by her coworkers. They praise Gloria's work ethic, positive attitude, and kindness. When asked what she has learned from her job, Gloria reflects, "I've learned to always be positive and to be an ear to listen for my coworkers, because there is some good in everyone."

Become a Member of the  Empowerment Society
A Small Gift Each Month Helps People with Disabilities Work for a Better Future

Donors like you forge opportunities for people with disabilities and disadvantages to gain in-demand skills and secure good jobs , and small gifts each month add up to have a big impact over the course of the year. Join the Empowerment Society by making a recurring monthly gift in any amount that is meaningful to you. 

Enrolling in the Empowerment Society is simple:  Click the Donate Now button to access our donation page, and select Monthly in the Donation Frequency field.

Thank you for joining us in this important work!