Randolph, MA – May Institute and Richdale Convenience Stores have announced a new business partnership that will bring real-world business expertise into the classrooms at the Todd Fournier Center for Employment Training and Community Inclusion.
Located on the Randolph campus of the Institute’s May Center School for Autism and Developmental Disabilities, the Fournier Center is a “school within a school” that offers academic instruction, life skills training, and job opportunities for students ages 14 to 22 with autism and other developmental disabilities.
Khan Barznab is owner, founder, and director of the Rawshon Group, which operates the Richdale Convenience Stores as well as several other retail, investment properties, and distribution businesses in Massachusetts. Barznab says he is impressed by May Institute’s commitment to preparing young people with autism to compete in the workplace and to live as independently as possible.
“Employers are often reluctant to hire candidates with disabilities simply because they become distracted by what they see as limitations rather than their actual ability to be positive contributors to the business,” says Mr. Barznab.
“My goal is not only to work together with the May staff to ensure that the students are learning the technical skills and getting the right hands-on experience they need to be more competitive in the workplace, but also to help other employers recognize that these candidates have the necessary skills and potential to perform a variety of roles,” he adds.
The May Institute/Richdale partnership follows a recently released report from the Governor’s Special Commission Relative to Autism that recommends increasing employment opportunities for individuals with autism by providing a range of job training, job development, and employment opportunities.
“Business partners like Mr. Barznab have expertise in areas that correspond to our vocational training suites – retail, restaurant/cafeteria, or hotel/housekeeping,” says Scott Chausse, M.Ed., Director of Vocational Services at the Fournier Center. “They are able to provide technical support to students who are working on developing valuable work skills. Our job training program will benefit greatly from our partnership with Richdale, and we are tremendously grateful.”
The Town of Randolph has been central to creating this opportunity for May Institute students. “We are privileged to partner with May Institute on such a valuable program,” says Randolph Town Manager David Murphy. “The work being done through the Todd Fournier Center is a model of how government, business, and nonprofits can work together for the greater good.”
More than a dozen Fournier Center students are currently working in paid and volunteer positions in the Randolph area. Students work with job coaches who transport them to and from work, supplement training offered by the employer, and provide support.
“Inclusion in the community is one of the best ways for individuals with special needs to learn new skills, become independent, form meaningful relationships, and lead happy, fulfilling lives,” says Chausse.
About the Todd Fournier Center
The Todd Fournier Center for Employment Training and Community Inclusion is a highly specialized program that prepares young people with autism and special needs to successfully transition to adulthood. The program is located n the campus of the May Center School for Autism and Developmental Disabilities in Randolph, Mass., a day and residential special education school for students from preschool to age 22.
About Richdale Convenience Stores
Richdale Food Shops opened in Randolph Square nearly 10 years ago with a vision of providing customers with a hybrid of a chain store and a "ma and pa shop." We offer the best of both worlds - a large variety of products and staff members who greet customers by name. We are able to do this by keeping a corporate management structure and hiring from the local community.