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Lynn resident Rob Neal, a dishwasher at senior living facility Brightview Danvers since 2019, has been honored by Brightview Senior Living as one of the company’s associates of the year.

Rob Neal initially came to Brightview through Northeast Arc’s Supported Employment program. Neal has thrived in the hectic kitchen environment, and now often trains new dishwashers, according to Deanna Lawrence, executive director of Brightview Danvers. Neal also steps in to 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 has been supported by Northeast Arc, a Peabody-based organization that helps individuals with disabilities participate in their communities, for nearly 13 years. 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,” says Matt Lacorazza, employment supports manager at Northeast Arc and Neal’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 is a former gold medalist in basketball and track and field, and now wants to help others reach their goals.

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.

Brightview honored Neal in early February at the company’s annual conference in Baltimore. As part of the trip, Neal was able to take his first-ever plane flight and 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.”