The Dream

We want to put our student’s differences to work.

We currently have a school store that is open 2 days a week. We make and sell snacks and drinks to our customers but this is only the first step in a much bigger dream.

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Our next step is to create a small cafe that will provide our students with a supportive environment of caring teachers and business associates.  The student’s job skills will be matched with appropriate accommodations to ensure their success.  Each student will be given meaningful work in a controlled environment that will empower them to work to reach their full potential.

We plan to start by offering boxed lunches on a daily basis to the students at the school. Then we hope to offer catering services to local businesses. With good food and a marketing strategy that emphasizes our cause, we will  develop a business that would enable our program to be self sustaining.

Why the dream is Important

For most people, graduating from High School and deciding “what’s next” is a daunting task.  For students with developmental disabilities including, down-syndrome and autism, post high school options are even more limited and the decisions are even tougher.  Once High School is over, many of these young adults are left with no place to go, no meaningful work to do and no sense of community.  This group needs specialized  life skills and job skills training in order to successfully transition from high school.

The current unemployment rate for individuals with disabilities is twice that of the average population. Beyond that, it is estimated that only 20% of autistic individuals are employed full time.  Traditional job coaches and work rehabilitation programs exist.  However, they are often ill equipped to work with the unique challenges that disabled adults face.

Work is therapeutic and enables those with disabilities to actively participate in life and become productive members of adult society.  More importantly, work gives people purpose.  Employment gives people somewhere to go everyday, a community to interact with and a sense of fulfillment.

There is great need.  Currently, the capacity of agencies to meet the needs of adults with disabilities is not keeping up with the current demand, yet alone the projected significant demand increase, in the not too distant future.

How This Works 

Gaining meaningful competitive employment for all of our students is our ultimate goal. For some, the program may only be short term, as they gain the needed employment skills and are able to secure a job.  For others, their participation in the program would be more long term.  However, all of our clients would benefit from beginning to work in our secure environment. Our employees would perform work activities in a group or individual stations with significant support by highly trained staff.

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Long term, we would love to develop or network with other social enterprises where our clients can work.  We’ve thought about planting a large garden where some of our employees could work. We could use the produce in our catering business and also sell produce at one of the local farmers markets. Other ideas that have been discussed include a thrift store, a furniture refinishing business or even a cleaning service.

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2 Responses to “The Dream”

  1. sally norris February 16, 2013 at 1:39 am #

    this store was fun to do and we did a lot and we sell things for other people they like our store

    • sally norris March 6, 2013 at 10:44 pm #

      i love to help at this store to make people happy. i also love helping with the casheir too

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