Nebraska Local Businesses Welcome I/DD Workforce & Economy
Hands of Heartland’s mission of supporting and enriching the lives of adults with intellectual and developmental disorders is a multifaceted approach that begins in the home, encompasses their professional lives, and seeks to enrich their personal lives as well. At the heart of this mission is also our effort of ensuring that the community is fully engaged and that we and those under our care do everything that we can to build up the local economy and create a sense of connection and support to the neighborhoods where we live and work.
This post will discuss why it’s important to support the local economy, and how Hands of Heartland’s Create-Ables program combines our passion of advocacy for the disabled community with our love and support of the local economy.
Making a Case for Local Businesses
The spread of national chains and box stores has no doubt made it harder for locally-based businesses to gain ground in small communities. Spending money at a chain business means that out of every $100 you spend, only $43 will stay in the community. Spend that $100 on locally owned and operated businesses, and the amount that remains in your community increases to $68. This is crucial because you’re helping to support almost 8% of the working population who are small business owners.
One reason that Hands of Heartland focuses its supported employment program on local businesses as much as possible is that in the local economy, more than 60% of jobs originate with small local businesses, and those employees are consistently happier and report higher job satisfaction. These are exactly the types of environments where our supported employment candidates can thrive.
The Create-Ables Space
Keeping in the spirit of supporting local businesses, which are in turn more likely to support the works of local artists and creators than are chain businesses, the Hands of Heartland team launched the Create-Ables program in partnership with Farm to Market Home, a retailer that offers unique homewares to visitors and allows our individuals to showcase hand-made products and share their stories with visitors. Being allowed the opportunity to share their story while selling products they’ve created with their own hands gives participants a huge boost of self-confidence and autonomy.
The Create-Ables program includes several components.
- The Do-Space Pushing our mission of interaction and inclusion within the community, the Do-Space is open to the public and allows visitors to create and redesign pieces with the help of our community members.
- Work Bench Our facilities are home to a fully-operational wood shop, where our participants are given the assistance and support they need to create the pieces they will feature in the Farm to Market Home retail space.
- Enclaves A stepping stone in our supported employment program, our enclaves provide participants with opportunities to earn an income in settings where they can put their vocational skills to work. These opportunities provide them invaluable opportunities to work side-by-side with non-disabled individuals in order to learn important social and professional behavior in the workplace.
Keeping It In the Neighborhood
At Hands of Heartland we advocate strongly for the inclusion and support of the intellectually and developmentally disabled community. One way we can all support this mission and allow them to also contribute to the local economy is through opportunities such as our Create-Ables program, where our individuals have the opportunity to showcase their artistic and creative talents while contributing directly to the local economy.