Thrift store's success creates jobs for those with autism
Posted February 24
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.