Northeast Arc’s Rob Neal has been honored as one of Brightview Senior Living’s associates of the year. Brightview operates senior living communities along the East cost, and Neal has worked for Brightview Danvers since 2019 as a dishwasher.
Brightview honored Neal in early February at the company’s annual conference in Baltimore, Md. As part of the trip, Neal was able to take his first-ever plane flight. At the conference he enjoyed meeting other Brightview employees from across the country before being honored on stage. When asked about what it meant to receive the award, Neal simply said: “Good work does pay off.”
“Rob embodies our Brightview core values in so many ways, and it was wonderful to celebrate his achievements and passion,” said Doug Dollenberg, President & CEO, Brightview Senior Living. “We are grateful for partnerships with groups like Northeast Arc to help connect us with individuals eager to work and eager to make a difference. Brightview was built on the idea that a great place to work is a great place to live, and we strive to be an inclusive workplace where everyone can thrive.”
Rob Neal initially came to Brightview through Northeast Arc’s Supported Employment program, and received training and support from his job coach, Matt Lacorazza. According to Deanna Lawrence, executive director of Brightview Danvers, Neal has thrived in the hectic kitchen environment, and now often trains new dishwashers. Neal also steps into help by delivering to-go meals to residents, providing them with valuable social interaction.
“From the start, Rob has been outgoing, positive, and a bundle of high energy,” wrote Lawrence in nominating Neal. “He quickly got to know everyone through his outgoing nature. He always stops to greet everyone by name and enjoys telling them his latest accomplishment or how many extra shifts he has picked up to help out the team. He is a friend to all of us and strives to lift everyone’s spirit.”
Neal showed his dedication and passion for his job throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, often working alone during busy shifts in the kitchen. When vaccines first became available, Neal was among the first in line to get vaccinated, saying he wanted to get the shot so that he could “work hard” again.
Neal has been supported by Northeast Arc for nearly 13 years, and during that time he has continually set goals to learn new skills and has grown personally and professionally.
“Rob really exemplifies what we try to do at Northeast Arc,” said Matt Lacorazza, employment supports manager at Northeast Arc and Rob’s job coach. “We provided the training and support that helped Rob secure an inclusive job in our community. But he did the rest through his hard work and dedication.”
In addition to his work at Brightview, Neal loves to give back by working as a Special Olympics track and field coach. Neal says the program gave him so much (he’s a former gold medalist in basketball and track and field) that he now wants to help others reach their goals. Neal also regularly volunteers at Northeast Arc events including the Mike Frangos Commodore Invitational and Run for Inclusion.
Photos courtesy of Brightview Senior Living