Local News

Thrift store's success creates jobs for those with autism

Posted February 24, 2014

Raleigh's HANDmeUPs thrift shop has been so successful in its first six months that managers are offering paid positions to some of the people who have been volunteering there since the start.

Any job creation is good news, but HANDmeUPs has a greater mission – to employ and train older teens and adults with autism and other developmental disabilities. The store is operated by The Power of the Dream, a nonprofit organization that promotes empowerment for those with developmental disabilities.

Managers Gena Brown and Jeff Fleming raised money to launch the store after losing their jobs in the nonprofit sector. 

“We made the decision that we could go back to teaching special education or we could go ahead and start something where we could hire individuals with disabilities because there is a great need,” Brown said.

Brown and Fleming chose to delay getting paid while the store got off the ground. Now they are able to offer paid employment to people who might otherwise have difficulty finding a job.

“We are hoping to pay as many people as we can and then have more profit to continue on with the same sort of thing,” Fleming said.


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  • WFrules Feb 25, 2014

    This is great, however for those that do not live close to certain donation centers and only GCF I have no other choice but to donate to a place that's close to us. Make these wonderful donation places easier to get to and maybe more people will have choices where to donate other than GCF where they have many in each town... Why do you think people donate to GCF, it's because they're easy to get to and they have many around!

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Feb 24, 2014

    View quoted thread


    Why do you say that?

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Feb 24, 2014

    What a GREAT blessing, for the owners, the employees - and the community too.

  • autismawareness Feb 24, 2014

    nice store & nice people. i'm always looking for a good place to drop off goods, and goodwill sux.

  • LovemyPirates Feb 24, 2014

    This is what is what non-profit thrift shop should be. I'll never donate to Goodwill again but to this shop and/or Salvation Army.

  • Al Smith Feb 24, 2014
    user avatar

    Awesome to see. Good job HANDmeUPS!

  • 678devilish Feb 24, 2014

    Wonderful! God bless you for creating job for the Autism people.

  • Forthe Newssite Feb 24, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    I think while Goodwill may well do that, or have done it in the past, it seems THEIR focus has become supporting their director in an absurd lifestyle. I'd much rather help these folks with donations than GCF-they are off my list until the boss can live in a normal house and make a normal salary. A 2012 annual report filed with the state shows Miller earned $856,043 last year is NOT a normal salary for a non-profit IMHO

  • sunshine1040 Feb 24, 2014

    Gee that is what Goodwill Industries has been claiming they do for years is train and hire the disabled

  • kateyezkateyez Feb 24, 2014

    This is a great business, love to go in there. The people that work there really care about the employees and the customers. So glad this has been a success!