Are you, your faith-based organization or social service club looking for a unique opportunity to make have a direct impact on the lives of young women with disabilities?
Yes She Can Inc. is a new non-profit organization dedicated to developing job skills and employment opportunities for teen girls and young women with autism. Our first venture is Girl AGain, a boutique where we sell gently used American Girl dolls, clothes, furniture, accessories, and books. The store will employ both people with and without disabilities in an inclusive setting.
We need donated American Girl brand merchandise to sell in our store. We are looking for good condition used or new merchandise. Our employees and volunteers clean the dolls and the clothes, arrange complete outfits, determine prices, display the products, and work on inventory management, marketing, and customer service in the store. We will be developing training programs and processes to teach each job task. The goal is to develop skills and confidence and experience so that Girl AGain employees can be prepared for employment with conventional enterprises.
But it is not only important to help people develop the skills they need to “fit in” to the workplace, it is also important for our whole community to be more accepting and include people who are differently abled in the workplace.
The service project: We are looking for help in collecting good condition merchandise by conducting collection drives.
The person or group selecting this project will need to prepare a plan to include:
method of promoting her collection campaign for Girl AGain
method of collecting donations
arranging to give collection to Yes She Can Inc.
experience working with Girl AGain employees and volunteers
Yes She Can Inc. has recommendations and can assist with this work. This should be a fun and rewarding project, an opportunity to not only provide the basis for work but to also have first hand experience in working side by side with our employees.
Contact Marjorie Madfis, founder and executive director, Yes She Can Inc. at YesSheCanInc@gmail.com or 914-428-1258
Background: This story has been told on previous blog posts. But here is a review:
The challenge: Less than 20% of adults with developmental disabilities are employed today – that is an 80% UNemployment rate!! (And those that do have jobs are working part time and often for less than minimum wage.) Very few businesses, both large and small, make any effort to hire people with autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disabilities. Furthermore, many people with autism have skill to perform the job but are lacking the workplace social skills and resilience to keep the job.
The need: There is a need to develop job skills and workplace social skills for people with autism in a safe and accommodating workplace where training is the key mission, rather than maximizing profits. However the training must be in a realistic environment that replicates conventional for-profit retail businesses, and where skill development is transferable to traditional business enterprises.
There is a need for businesses to demonstrate success with employment of people with developmental disabilities, to create models for training and human resource management, and for integration and inclusion with “typical” employees.
The opportunity: Create a business where there is market demand, product supply and employee expertise, and where we can leverage the expertise to create a differentiated competitive advantage.
Leverage expertise: My daughter and may other young women like her have great expertise in American Girl product line. They know each American Girl historical doll’s story, their outfits including the retired ones, they love to interact with the dolls and read their books. They love going to the American Girl store for tea and shopping. They are very loyal customers and always will be. So like any good business strategy, we will take this passion and put it to work.
Meet market demand: There are thousands of girls ages 3-12 in Westchester County demand for used and lower cost or rare and out of circulation merchandise. And there is a robust secondary market already to meet this demand. What differentiates us is our attention to detail and in the atmosphere we will create in our store.
Acquire products: There is a large secondary market for American Girl; about 100,000 listings on eBay and thousands on Craig’s list as well as merchandise sold at yard sales and consignment shops. American Girl has been in business for more than 25 years so girls who bought AG in 1993 at age 8 are now 28 years old, and have long outgrown their interest. There is plenty of merchandise sitting in attics and basements unused and ready for donation.
Transferable work skills: The beauty of the resale business is that there are many tasks that need to be done and employees can either specialize in what they like best or choose to expand their skills. Micro-tasks include: sorting through donated clothes and created complete outfits (skirt, shirt, jacket, shoes, socks for example); pricing products competitively by comparing prices on eBay; cleaning dolls; researching the doll’s original hair style and styling the doll hair; price tagging the merchandise; shooting photos for Facebook; posting content on Pinterest; logging inventory, and much more. There is opportunity to develop training processes using proven methodologies from education and incorporating technology that can enable self-directed learning, repetition, and progression and reward.
Creating an incubator: The goal is to have many employees have 6 to 12 month employment experiences at Girl Again and then find employment at another business where they can use their skills and have a successful career.
Our store opened in February, 2014. We have been holding workshops at the Madfis home to prepare the merchandise for resale and placement in the boutique. Lots more work can be done when we get more merchandise. And hopefully a larger store where we have a workshop space
We would love your help!
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