On Thursday, September 29, the Long Beach Post hosted an event to honor young people from around the city who are doing great things to better their community and beyond. Out of hundreds of nominations from our readers, judges chose 40 winners, representing a range of professions and activism. The Post will be profiling each honoree in the coming days.
East Coast transplant Jessica Foults easily embodies the characteristics of a bonafide Long Beach gal, be it through activities like walking her dog, working in a local coffee shop or even enjoying the multiple events going on throughout the city. Others, both on and off the clock, makes her a true Long Beach luminary.
When the Long Beach Post 40 Under 40 winner isn’t taking in what the city has to offer, she works tirelessly to help those with intellectual and developmental disabilities as the Best Buddies International state director of California.
The 33-year-old was described as “inspiring” by her nominators, but Foults demurred, saying she believed the Best Buddies IDD participants are the ones who are truly inspirational.
“I am constantly inspired and blown away by the incredible abilities and talents of our participants with intellectual and developmental disabilities, (IDD), who with the support of our programs have the opportunity to become valued employees, respected leaders, lifelong friends, and change people’s attitudes and perspectives about people with IDD,” said Foults..
Foults has worked with Best Buddies for 11 years on two coasts, helping IDD individuals foster one-to-one friendships, develop leadership skills and find jobs.
In her capacity as state director, Foults oversees a $3 million budget and a staff of 25 throughout the state, according to her anonymous nominators. She was recently awarded a $1 million government grant for additional state funding.
Foults helps more than 7,000 people with disabilities throughout the state in school programs and assists more than 100 participants in the jobs program. For the last six years, she has planned a Friendship Walk in Long Beach for students in local schools, as well as people from the community.
Through her efforts, Best Buddies recently gained a spot as a charity partner with the Long Beach Marathon and has successfully lobbied Long Beach businesses to employ people with disabilities.
“I am humbled and appreciative of the nominations and the award, and accept it on behalf of our incredible team of Best Buddies Staff and volunteers who make our programs possible throughout California,” Foults said.