Philip Donahue

When Philip Donahue retired from Market Basket in June 2022, he had logged a total 27-plus years at the beloved New England grocery. Working his way up from bagger to Customer Service Representative, Phil was an institution at the chain’s Tewksbury and Lowell locations.

On his final day at the Tewksbury store, Market Basket threw him an in-store retirement party and posted photos to their Facebook page. “Thank you Philip for serving our customers for 27 years! You are a fine example for us all!”

It was not the first time Phil was recognized as an exemplary employee. Just a month earlier, the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress recognized Phil as our very first Employee of the Year Award winner, which goes annually to an employee with Down syndrome in Massachusetts who exemplifies being a leader and role model for all individuals with Down syndrome to have meaningful job opportunities in the community.

“Phil is so deserving of this honor” said MDSC Executive Director Maureen Gallagher. “His loyalty to his job, his company and his Market Basket customers is unmatched,” she said, noting that Phil even went on strike in support of the company 8 years earlier. “The fact is that people with Down syndrome are often among the most dedicated, reliable, honest, hard-working employees around. And there is no better example of that than Phil.”

Nobody exemplifies the Your Next Star Employment Center’s mission than its namesake, Philip Donahue.

For his part, Phil explained why he was so loyal: “I was 16 years old when I started working at Market Basket,” Phil said. “I have worked other places over the years. But Market Basket is my favorite. They are like family to me.”

In May of 2022, MDSC announced its first endowed fund, the Philip A. Donahue Endowment Fund, established by the Richard & Nancy Donahue Charitable Foundation, with a focus on supporting individuals with Down syndrome by helping them prepare for and find employment and professional development opportunities.

At that time, MDSC also unveiled the Philip Donahue Your Next Star (YNS) Employment Center. Originally launched in 2015, YNS remains dedicated to opening employers’ eyes to the abilities of workers with Down syndrome. Nobody exemplifies that mission better than the Your Next Star Employment Center’s namesake, Philip Donahue.

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