Decatur, Alabama (WHNT) — In Northern Alabama, there are very few places where adults with autism can work. But his one couple in Decatur is trying to change that.
Inspired by a daughter with a rare brain disorder, Jeff and Andrea Sharp created the Sunshine Everyday Thrift Store to provide a place for people like her to find meaningful and fulfilling work environments.
Bryant Woodall told News 19 that he loves his job sorting clothes as they come into the store.
“I really like working here. I really enjoy it,” he explained. “It gives me the opportunity to meet other people.”
“Bryant makes stacks, so we find men’s, women’s, kids’ and what we can store and what’s too worn out to store,” says Bryant, who hired him after months of volunteering at the store. Jeff Sharp said.
Bryant has an intellectual disability. Sharp wants to make the world a little more inclusive by giving individuals with special needs the opportunity to work in an inclusive environment.
A husband and wife team set up the store in September with the goal of not only providing jobs, but also providing a platform for socialization and socialization for adults with special needs.
“Many people with disabilities are not seen by society,” Sharpe explained. “You don’t see them in public, you don’t see them working in places. It is the least represented aspect politically.”
Travis English has Down syndrome and works in a store. He has a vast knowledge of music and books. His mother, Lisa English, says working at the store helped her build her social connections.
“He’s become more social and talks more,” she explained. “Travis also interacts with the general public and has his fan club, so to speak.”
Most people with disabilities are not successful in finding employment. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 19% of people with disabilities will be employed in 2021. The 80% unemployment rate is steep and thrift stores hope that will change in Morgan County.
“My hope is that other companies will see what we do and emulate one employee at a time,” Sharp said.
The Everyday Sunshine Thrift store is located at 1311 19th Avenue SE in Decatur. Click here for more information.
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