Parents of children with disabilities spend years giving their kids extra attention, education, and as many opportunities as possible to prepare them for adulthood. Entering the “real world” is hard enough as it is, but it’s even more challenging for those trying to enter a world that has been slow to accommodate their disabilities.
Bonnie Schmidt knows the fear and anxiety that goes into preparing a child with disabilities for the future all too well. Her daughter, Jessica, was born with a disability that Bonnie helped her navigate over the years. Eventually, their hobby of making candles sparked an idea that would give Jessica, and others like her, an opportunity to work in the real world.
In 2012, Bonnie and Jessica launched their organization, ScentsAbility Candles, which employs young adults and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The nonprofit organization is autism-friendly and provides job training, employment, and housing for those with disabilities.
Those who work for ScentsAbility Candles do a variety of jobs from marketing, sales, and development of the soy (and delicious-smelling) candles. It has become not only a thriving organization but a place where those with disabilities can find community and prepare themselves to live fulfilling and independent lives.
According to Bonnie,
“We want (those with intellectual and developmental disabilities) to shine both as people and as skilled candle makers. These are their products and we want them to take pride in that. They all have unique personalities but are driven toward the same goal, and that is to succeed.”
As the company has gained momentum, more and more retailers are offering to sell the product in their stores to help the organization grow. ScentsAbility Candles has also won various awards over the past few years, like the Connectional Platinum Business Award and the WEX 2018 award for empowering Women’s Business.
Bonnie’s daughter holds a leadership role in the organization, but more than that, she has gained confidence and skills that she may have otherwise never been able to acquire. Not to mention, the same opportunities are now available to other people’s children whose parents may have had the same worries and anxieties Bonnie had while Jessica was growing up.
The hobby-turned-business has made a huge impact on the lives of so many. One employee, a man with down syndrome, is immensely grateful for all he’s gained from the organization. He said, “This gives me so many opportunities to have a (better) life. This can lead to so many possibilities. I come in here and work and I have friends.” In the end, what more can a parent want for their baby?
Interested in supporting the organization? Check out their webpage and be sure to share this story with your friends!
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