Best Buddies Expands in Memphis

  • July 8, 2014

By BRIAN McNULTY, Best Buddies TN Program Manager

Best Buddies is an international non-profit committed to the inclusion and development of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Our mission is to establish a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for people with IDD through one-to-one friendship, integrated employment and leadership development. Best Buddies is currently on 6 continents with 1,500 chapters and participants in all 50 states.

When people with disabilities are unable to attain or maintain a job, it is most often due to an absence of social skills, rather than an inability to perform the work required. Best Buddies® offers participants socialization and leadership opportunities, as well as job coaching, thereby providing the necessary tools for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) to become more independent and more included in the community. 

Spearheaded by two mothers who have a child with special needs, Melissa Todd and Kristin Barek, the Memphis branch opened in February 2013. Best Buddies offers opportunities for students in Middle School, High School and Colleges and has a Citizens program, which is for adults. The focal point of our operation is partnering up an individual with IDD with one who doesn’t, fostering a mutually beneficial, one-to-one friendship. These relationships are most often formed at schools by matching up students in the Special Education department with students at the same school who don’t have special needs. There are faculty advisors, student leadership and a strong support system for all chapter members. 

Best Buddies Memphis is currently in Ridgeway HS, Arlington HS, University of Memphis and Colonial Middle School. By the fall of 2014, we hope to start chapters at Germantown HS, Houston HS, St. Georges, Peabody HS, South Gibson County HS, Ole Miss, Rhodes College, White Station MS and South Side MS. We also are developing partnerships with the Exceptional Foundation of West Tennessee, Madonna Learning Center and the North Mississippi Regional Center. 

For more information about Best Buddies fundraisers, our Memphis expansion or how to get a chapter started at your local school, please refer to the contacts below and don’t hesitate to reach out and learn more. 

Melissa Todd, Area Director-

Brian McNulty, Program Manager - | (901) 937-0005

Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT) is a nonprofit legal services organization that provides free legal advocacy services to protect the rights of Tennesseans with disabilities.

Middle Tennessee (Admin Office)

2 International Plaza, Suite 825
Nashville, TN 37217

Phone: 615-298-1080
Fax: 615-298-2046

East Tennessee

9050 Executive Park Drive, Suite 101-B
Knoxville, TN 37923

Phone: 865-670-2944
Fax: 865-470-7028

West Tennessee

1407 Union Avenue, Suite 1015
Memphis, TN 38104

Phone: 901-458-6013
Fax: 901-249-2933