This New York Bakery Is Helping People With Special Needs Succeed.

Many adults with developmental disabilities struggle to find a job, as some companies aren’t willing to give them a chance.

The South Fork Bakery in Long Island, New York, is not among them. Along with delicious baked goods, this establishment is serving up wonderful opportunities!

Shirley Ruch founded the bakery in 2016 to open doors for people with special needs.

The speech and language pathologist has been working with children who have autism for more than 30 years. As such, she noticed that many of them had a hard time finding employment after high school or college. That’s what inspired her to create a workplace for them!


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In the years since, Shirley has seen time and time again that people with disabilities make great employees! They just need a little support and guidance. That’s why she cycles new hires through each position — to find the jobs that fit them best, whether it’s rolling out dough or selling freshly-baked cookies.

On top of gaining valuable job skills, employees join a community that promotes acceptance and friendship.

“We all have different disabilities or we have different troubles or challenges,” employee Sasha Gracia said. “We learn a lot, we learn about baking, we learn about cooking, and we learn how to cooperate together in one workplace.”

south fork bakery employees
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What’s more, Shirley’s former employees have gone on to find employment elsewhere!

“It’s the gift that gives back because you’re giving meaningful paid employment to people who are very disenfranchised in our society,” Shirley explained. “I think if you give them an opportunity with support, with good communication, that you can find things that they can be very productive in your business. We really welcome all people.”

What an amazing way to promote inclusion! People with special needs are just as deserving and capable of earning a living, and we would love to see more opportunities like this one in every state!

Unfortunately, the bakery has fallen on hard times amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. If you can, please donate here to support their mission, and don’t forget to spread the word by sharing this story.

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