With a passion to help others, Newman started his career in 1976 at [then] Yavapai Rehabilitation Center, and has continued to build YEI! to 192 employees, offering continuing community initiatives, new community-based employment, new production partners and group homes that are completely debt free thanks to the support of many throughout the Prescott community and beyond who lend an ongoing helping hand. Newman’s dedication is unwavering, his heart forever growing and his commitment and generosity an asset to anyone who knows him.
The Jesuit education of Brophy Prep inspired Newman’s lifework. His office door at Yavapai Exceptional Industries (YEI!) includes a quote by Pope Francis; over his computer is the Prayer for the Workplace; on his wall is the Litany of Humility. At the core of a Brophy education lies the motto “Men for Others,” a motto that clearly defines Newman, a mentor and leader among peers, staff, volunteers and the disabled men and women of YEI! Newman credits this calling from his service as an Easter Seals Camp Counselor at Mingus Mountain when he was a Junior at Brophy Prep.
Later, at the University of Arizona, he pursued his degree in Developmental Disabilities. Answering a hand-written bulletin board ad seeking an Executive Director for a non-profit in Prescott, he began his work at the then-fledgling organization. Since then, Newman has built YEI! from its location in an abandoned warehouse with 14 people, to an organization that maintains five facilities and two award-winning group homes. Former owner of [then] Mingus Springs Camp and good friend Henry Dahlberg says, “I met Brad when he was 16 and working at the Easter Seals Camp at Mingus Springs, so I’ve known him for a long time. What a phenomenal impact he’s had on this community with a special population. He just never says no at any chance to help folks out. It’s pretty remarkable.”
The heart of YEI! is found through the employment of the disabled adults whose work as “Production Partners” support businesses in the community and gives them opportunities to live meaningful, productive lives. Production Partner QCoffice is just one of the businesses who partners with YEI! QCoffice Director, Doug Arnett says, “Partnering with YEI! was a logical choice when we decided we wanted to expand our office supply business into the Prescott market. YEI! is a wonderful organization that matches the mission and values of our own organization. When we introduce ourselves as a partner of YEI! to people in Prescott, we find they respond with open hearts, and want to learn more about what we’re doing because YEI! is so highly regarded in the community.” Alexia Wacks, CEO Of Living Blessed echoes that sentiment: “YEI! clients can be counted on to stay on task and accomplish the goal no matter how many products I give them!” She adds, “Partnering with YEI! allows me to provide a public service as a local businesswoman by supplying predictable work to valued and skilled individuals. These opportunities create the self-respect and personal fulfillment that employment allows.”
Over the years, YEI!’s work has extended well beyond the boundaries of the Central Highlands. In 1981, notice of YEI! was taken by Eunice Kennedy Shriver who sent a letter and a contribution. Senator Edward Kennedy soon followed suit with his own letter and contribution.
Locally, Newman’s talents and generosity are found in his involvement with local theater groups, and leading river tours though Grand Canyon River Guides. Longtime community friend and ERAU Assistant Professor Sean Jeralds reflected on his years knowing Newman, and says, “If Brad was not at YEI! he might be the captain of a sailing pirate ship, or the Robin Hood of the Seas where he would still be doing good to others. No matter where he would end up, he would still be Brad, and most likely he’d be on the river. He is such an incredible cook! With one burner, he can make gourmet meals in the middle of nowhere!” Dahlberg echoes the sentiment. “If Brad wasn’t at YEI! he’d probably have a very successful river guide company, or herding cattle on a big ranch because he sure did love to ride.” It’s clear that Newman’s sense of adventure and giving heart touches everyone he meets.
In 2012, Newman was honored as Prescott Area Leadership’s Man of the Year. A spokesperson for the organization says, “Newman continues to work with the same vigor he brought to the organization from Day One. He has been a leading force in the movement to give equality to persons with disabilities.” Newman accepted the honor in his own personal style, saying, “I demand a recount!” In November 2015, Arizona State District II Toastmasters awarded Newman with their annual Community and Leadership Award. The award recognizes those who have shown exemplary communication and leadership training throughout their life’s work. Despite the numerous awards sprinkling the walls, however, Newman leads an Ignatian lifestyle, defined by its low-impact simplicity.
All year long, he entertains at more than 20 benefits with his story-telling and musical talents, including the recent Acker Musical Showcase held on December 11 in Prescott, where Newman has performed annually for many years. In addition, many patrons and visitors have enjoyed the down-to-earth spirit of Newman’s entertainment at Taco Tuesdays in downtown Prescott’s Brick & Bones Moonshine Bar & Bistro. Always giving back, he wrote “Dust and Ash,” a song for the Prescott 19 firefighters who lost their lives in June 2013. Few can dispute his commitment: Says Newman, “It’s all because I’m just a lucky son of a gun.”
Yavapai Exceptional Industries (YEI!) is a charitable organization founded in 1974 to support adults with disabilities. YEI! has been providing job training, employment, volunteer placements, and support services for these developmentally disabled adult residents of the cities and towns of the Central Highlands. Their program of “Developmental Employment” includes the award-winning “Community Contribution Corps” (community volunteer placements) and has been continually accredited at the highest level of service by the National Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) since 1978.
If you would like to know more about how to become involved with YEI!, or how to utilize their crews for tasks that would benefit your industry or organization, visit www.yeiworks.com. Be a part of the solution and make a difference in the every day lives of those who are supported by the efforts of YEI! and its extended community within Arizona and beyond.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Brad Newman at Yavapai Exceptional Industries! 928-445-0991