Twenty years ago the incidence of autism was estimated to be one in 10,000. The numbers have grown exponentially to one in 64. Though research is still needed for a more accurate understanding, it is clear that the ability of this population to obtain meaningful employment has not kept pace with the extraordinary growth in sheer numbers.
Though there is increasing emphasis in school based programs for vocational training, often it doesn’t match what might be available within the local communities where adults on the spectrum reside.
In 2015, Extraordinary Ventures New York (EVNY) was incorporated for the purpose of creating micro-businesses that would be specifically tailored to the skills and interests of adults on the spectrum. Through the mentorship of EV North Carolina, which is now in its 10th year and operating seven businesses, EVNY began investigating possible businesses that would thrive in Westchester County and searching for staff to run the program.
A gift candle business was established in the basement of board members as an initial experiment to see whether making and packaging the candles fit the skill sets and interests of a few volunteers. The candles were packaged festively and then sold at area farmers markets and gift fairs which enabled expanding opportunities for individuals with skills in selling to be hired.
The initial response was enormously positive and the first EVNY business was officially launched.
Staff would be needed to run the businesses and a site obtained for EVNY to become fully operational.
A start up grant from FECA as part of its mission of supporting programs that promote employment, enabled the hiring of a director. A second grant the following year has enabled workspace to be obtained and reconstructed to fit the needs of what will grow into an expanded EV Gifts business, an office solutions business and laundry business. The site officially opened on September 25th and to date, thirteen additional employees have been hired to fulfill EVNY’s mission.