Growing Solutions Farm is closed for the winter, but the growth it helps our young adults achieve needs nurturing all year long.
That’s why we’ve launched “12 Days of Growth”—a 12-day social media campaign to help fund the Farm and other projects, culminating with our annual 1212 Day Open House on (wait for it) December 12.
This campaign is reminding people that Growing Solutions Farm isn’t just a place to find the freshest arugula and eggplant in the city. It’s a place where young adults with autism learn about business and develop the transferable job skills they need to work and live independently.
Young adults like Dori.
“Dori is amazing for many reasons”
Dori is 18. She’s worked at Scafuri Bakery, a century-old Italian neighborhood bakery in Chicago’s Little Italy, since October, 2017. And she loves it.
“Dori had first attended a baking event with Urban Autism Solutions at the bakery. She was incredibly fun to work with and was very helpful and engaged in what we were doing,” says Kelly Lynch, the managing partner who hired and helped train Dori. “When we discussed hiring her I knew she was interested and would be ready to do what she could.
“Dori was very positive and was friendly with the other staff. She was always very enthusiastic to work.”
Lynch observed Dori applying skills learned at Growing Solutions Farm to her new responsibilities at the bakery.
“She would greet customers and also help make coffee drinks when needed. She did require a little extra one-on-one work at first, especially when it was a new task, but after she was used to the tasks she had a checklist she would independently work though during her shifts.
“Dori is amazing for many reasons. We loved working with her. She would greet everyone when she came in and get right to work.”
“A good role model”
As a vocational coordinator at Urban Autism Solutions, Christina Hovatter understands that young adults with autism face all the same challenges as other kids—and then some. She says, “When I graduated from college I had no idea how to be a professional. These kids face that times ten.”
She points to Dori as an example of someone who’s faced those challenges at Growing Solutions Farm and developed transferable job skills. “Dori is willing and ready to take on additional hours and continue growing her skills. For an 18-year-old to say they want to work more is really cool. She’s taking that initiative.”
Hovatter is most impressed by the growth of Dori’s communication skills—and her confidence in using them.
“We had an event with nearly 100 professionals in attendance, people in suits. Dori stepped up to the microphone with no hesitation and spoke for one or two minutes about her job, her boss and how much she loves working there. She just grabbed the mic and went.
“It’s incredible to see her overcome communication barriers publicly. When her peers see her being brave, and that she’s proud of her employment, it makes her a good role model for them—and for me as well.”