Global Company Champions Productive Lives for People in Recovery from Mental Illness

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Brain & Behavior Research Foundation Acting President & CEO Jeffrey Borenstein; Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, Canada, David C. Onley, his wife, Ruth Ann Onley, a recording artist and performer, Hon. John Milloy, Member of Provincial Parliament from Kitchener Centre, Minister of Training and Social Services, Walgreen Co. Team Member Gary Motbriand; 2009 Productive Lives Award Honoree J. Randolph Lewis, Senior Vice President, Supply Chain & Logistics, Walgreen Co.
Walgreen Co.

As research brings about significant progress in better understanding what causes mental illness and how to effectively treat it, strides are simultaneously being made to empower people with mental illness to lead full, productive and happy lives. On the heels of Martin Luther King Day—a time when our nation reflects on areas where discrimination must still be overcome—the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation spotlights a program that continues to makes the workplace a locus of opportunity for all.

On Wed. Dr. Jeffrey Borenstein, Acting President & CEO, Brain & Behavior Research Foundation traveled to Windsor CT at the invitation of Foundation 2009 Productive Lives Awardee J. Randolph “Randy” Lewis, Senior Vice President, Supply Chain and Logistics, Walgreen Co. He visited the Walgreen Connecticut Distribution Center, one of many Walgreen Co. facilities that creates and integrates employment opportunities for people with cognitive and physical disabilities. The Walgreen Co. program was established in 2004 by Lewis, inspired by his son who was diagnosed with autism at three years of age.

Today the Walgreen Co. effort is a true example of a program through which workers enjoy equality and a chance to thrive. As many as 50% of workers at some Walgreen Co. distribution facilities have disclosed disabilities. Success stories throughout the company’s more than 7,000 facilities and stores range from young adults with autism being given their first paid work opportunities to semi-retired older adults with early stages of Alzheimer’s contributing greatly to the company and its inclusive culture.  

“Society has more work to do in eliminating discrimination of those who have mental illness,” says Dr. Borenstein. “That is why I am so impressed with the long-term commitment of Walgreens’ leadership in supporting the outstanding program that Randy and colleagues built. Walgreen Co. is not just a model in the U.S. because of this program, but it has caught the attention of labor leaders and mental health advocates throughout the world.”

Read more about Randy Lewis and the Walgreen Co. program in the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation Summer 2011 Quarterly article.

Hear Randy Lewis’ acceptance speech at the 2009 Foundation Annual Gala Awards Dinner

[Photo caption from above]
Guests from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation and Canadian government tour the Walgreen Connecticut Distribution Center.
 
Front (L-R): Brain & Behavior Research Foundation Acting President & CEO Jeffrey Borenstein; Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, Canada, David C. Onley and his wife, Ruth Ann Onley, a recording artist and performer
 
Back (L-R): Hon. John Milloy, Member of Provincial Parliament from Kitchener Centre, Minister of Training (Colleges & Universities), Minister of Community and Social Services and Government House Leader, Legislative Assembly, Ontario, Canada; Walgreen Co. Team Member Gary Motbriand; and Brain & Behavior Research Foundation 2009 Productive Lives Award Honoree J. Randolph Lewis, Senior Vice President, Supply Chain & Logistics, Walgreen Co.

Article comments

It's a wonderful story about how a society as a whole can support a disability client and/or a family by providing an employment opportunity, it provide such a vital part of recovery. My son had a sudden onset of psychosis at the age of 22 in his first job after the college, he took two weeks off after the hospitalization, then went back to work but the performance was not well, he finally agreed to take a two months of with his doctor's order to recuperate at home. He's doing relatively well and just went back to workplace for a week. He is smart and articulate, slowly regaining his ability back but his self-confidence is not the same. We believe he will recovery well with the right treatment and self-determination. We have a great doctor that just made us believe that recovery is possible and expected. We need to do more employment champions to offer jobs to the people who suffers and recovered from a severe mental illness, have a compassiante heart and kindness toward those in suffering!

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