DOWNEY - It's about to happen. For the first time in our community, a local nonprofit has purchased a retail franchise to employ people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This unique business model is known as a social enterprise, a growing movement in which a nonprofit organization leverages the power of business for community benefit.
The Arc Los Angeles & Orange Counties purchased a franchise to further its mission of employing people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The writing is on the wall - with an unemployment rate of 85 percent for people with developmental disabilities and the state funding at a standstill for years - The Arc decided to find a creative way to ensure jobs for people with disabilities.
The Arc has partnered with a New York-based franchise called "Just-A-Buck" whose owners believed in The Arc's mission of employing people with disabilities. This partnership, with the help of a local benefactor, will make this dream a reality.
Today's economy has required more and more shoppers to hunt for bargains, and retail outlets like dollar stores provide some low-cost options to help community members extend their budgets.
Just-A-buck will fill this niche, but with a twist - the store will employ five people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, all starting above minimum wage. The workers will participate in all aspects of making the store a success.
In addition, The Arc's Employment Preparation Program will utilize the store as a training program. The goal is to provide the training necessary so people can take that experience into the community and be more independent. The new store will also provide an added bonus: having people come into the store to see our workers and what they are capable of instead of their disability, you just can't measure that. We believe that work gives everyone, especially those with disabilities, purpose and dignity and it helps them achieve independence and economic self-sufficiency.
"The Arc empowers people with disabilities to realize their dreams of independence and economic self-sufficiency," said Kevin MacDonald, executive director of The Arc.
Just-A-Buck is located at 141 E. Willow St. in Long Beach, in the Wrigley Shopping Center.
********** Published: July 19, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 14