He’s living his own life. And as a ‘best buddy,’ he helps others do the same

Glenn Hiro is a role model for people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities or IDD.
Published: Oct. 31, 2023 at 4:57 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 31, 2023 at 5:10 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Glenn Hiro is a role model for people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities or IDD. He’s also a role model for those who don’t. “For people like me to have a job is always important because it helps us become independent,” he said.

Hiro found his independence when he found friends and helpers at Best Buddies Hawaii, the local chapter of an international organization.

“Best Buddies is a non-profit that promotes social inclusion, job opportunities, leadership development and inclusive living for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” said state Director Karen Glasser.

Hiro got involved with Best Buddies when he was a student at Kapolei High School, which was the first of 38 schools in the state to establish a chapter on campus.

He’s now 28 years old and he’s still involved.

“I love people,” he said. “That’s exactly why I’m part of the organization.”

As a state ambassador, Hiro talks to community groups about what the program offers, and he testifies at legislative hearings on bills that affect people with disabilities.

He and other Best Buddies participants are helping to dispel a myth.

“The assumption is that people with disabilities can only do so much, or maybe they can’t do very much at all. And that is not true,” Glasser said.

For years, Hiro has held the same job at Assagio restaurant in Kapolei. He hopes other employers look to people with disabilities as viable options for hires when posting their help wanted signs.

“It’s hard to look for jobs that fits you when you can’t meet some criteria as a person with disabilities,” he said.

Glasser said the organization is working on establishing a dedicated jobs program like there are in other states, and inclusive living spaces where people with disabilities live together. “The upshot is this: everybody deserves respect, a friend, and everybody deserves opportunity,” she said.

Hiro hopes to travel the world someday. When he was younger he dreamed of the career he wanted to pursue. “Every kid wants to think big, you know, astronaut, firefighter. The list goes on. Me personally, I wanted to be a police officer. Some stuff are just not meant to be,” he said.

But he’s proving there are many things people with IDD or other disabilities can accomplish, if they are only given a chance.