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How to Help the Special Needs Community

Updated on February 11, 2015

Helping the Special Needs Community

There is a tremendous need in nearly every community that most of us are entirely unaware of; the need of employment for the differently-abled or special needs individuals. Our school systems do a pretty good job of educating and training these wonderful citizens but those programs typically end at the age of twenty-one. All too often they are then forgotten by society and sent home to a life without growth or challenge. This is not just a problem for the individual with special needs but also for their family members as they often have no help in meeting the needs of their loved one.

There are a number of things that you can do to help these incredible people. I will touch on some of them in this article and try to point you in the right direction for other ideas. I promise that if you get involved in the life of a differently-abled person or two, or three... your life will be changed forever and you'll never regret you did.

How to help the Special Needs Community
How to help the Special Needs Community

How You Can Help

Where to Start

You don't even have to move to get started. Go up to the top of your browser and open another tab, type: "special needs, your town" in the search window. Then do some investigation into the organizations in your area that work with the differently-abled. Be sure to look specifically for a group that provides work or job training. You will probably come across a number of organizations concerned with healthcare and most places are pretty good about providing activities but the hole we see too often is in actual jobs. Next, bookmark the sites that stand out so you can come back to them later. If you don't find any then maybe you should consider starting one. I guarantee there is a need even if it's small.

Provide a Job

If you are a business owner, a manager or someone that can influence one, look around and see if there is some work that could be done by someone with different abilities than your current staff. You could even be thinking about something that isn't currently being done. When you find a job or task, get in touch with one of the organizations you found in your research and let them in on your idea. Most groups that work with special needs folks provide training and often will send a job coach along to help carry out the task. You could even get two great employees for much less than you would think though I hope profit isn't your motivation here.

I see a bus pull into our local Chick-fil-A each Wednesday morning bringing five or six of the happiest special adults you'll ever meet along with their coaches. They pick up around the room, clean tables and help organize the place. I'm sure that every business is capable of coming up with something they could do.

Volunteer

Volunteering is another way to have a huge impact on this community. Any of the organizations, groups or ministries that you came across in your research would be thrilled to have you donate some time on a regular basis. Working along with warm-hearted special folks will be the highlight of your week and the laughter will be the most genuine you have ever heard.

Patronize

I chose this subtitle to purposely get your attention. For far too long the special needs community has received the kind of patronization that's degrading or demeaning. The definition of patronize that I am suggesting here is, "support" or even the one that means, "shop at".

There are so many ways that we can support the differently-abled, some you have read about above. Others might be to champion their causes with the leaders in your community or frequenting businesses that you know hire those with special needs. There are places online that you can purchase items from that put the proceeds right back into these jobs. I'll put a link to a place in our area that is doing phenomenal work providing jobs for this community, please consider purchasing something from their store. Another way you can help is by donating your gently used items to a thrift store that employs special needs adults.

Items from "Our Thrift Store" - Please Support The Differently-abled

The proceeds from the sale of all of these items goes directly to employing special needs adults.

Dress Up - It's good to laugh

You never know what you're going to find when you visit the thrift store.

Special Needs Poll

Were you aware that there is a tremendous shortage of jobs for special needs adults?

See results

My Heroes

The inspiration for this article, in fact even more than that, a huge inspiration to me everyday, are our dear friends Dave and Sandy Krikac. Let me tell you about them. Dave and Sandy have an autistic daughter named Sara. Sara is so much fun and leads a very active life. When Sara finished high school Dave and Sandy were faced with the question, "What now?" After a lot of research they came to the realization that there really wasn't a lot of opportunities for special needs individuals in the work force. They put a ton of prayer into their dilemma and the answer that came back was that they should start something themselves. God gave them the idea of creating The Gear Foundation and under that banner opening "Our Thrift Store". There have been countless miracles throughout the years that the store has been providing jobs for the most special group of people you will ever meet and even more blessings for those of us that have the honor of hanging out with them sometimes.

If you live in the Nashville area and would like to support the work Dave and Sandy do or would like to stop by and meet Sara come to "Our Thrift Store" sometime. If you don't live close enough to stop by, you can support them by buying something from their ebay store featured in this article.

If something here has caused you to want to take action and you have questions check this out: Our Thrift Store

Say Hello - Tell us about the extraordinary person in your life.

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    • ChinaGal profile image

      ChinaGal 5 years ago

      As the mom of a special needs kid I really appreciate this lens.

    • SquidooPower profile image

      SquidooPower 5 years ago

      BIG fan of this!

    • InSearchOf LM profile image

      InSearchOf LM 5 years ago

      Extremely well written and excellent information. Thank you for bringing these great tips to our attention.

    • Brandi Bush profile image

      Brandi 5 years ago from Maryland

      What a wonderul lens! Thank you so much for being a voice for these extraordinary people. You are making a wonderful difference in this world and I'm certain that you are a hero to more than one person! :)

    • JK Sterling profile image
      Author

      Jim Sterling 5 years ago from Franklin, Tennessee

      @anonymous: Thank you Collette, it is wonderful to know that your community has recognized the need and is doing something to help.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Well I have to say that you are an extraordinary person, it's not that people don't want to help it's just that they are not sure what they can do. Where I live we have set up a place that special needs people can continue to be educated, which is an outing for them. This place is also a toy factory where they make the toys and sell them in stores. It is run by volunteers and is a rewarding project for all people involved

    • profile image

      jeremykim2011 5 years ago

      If I can bless this lens, I would. If I gain Angel status, I'll come back.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      This is a lovely tribute. Very well done. We have some "special people" in our family.

    • kathysart profile image

      kathysart 5 years ago

      My husband is an extraordinary person who puts me to shame. Each day he deals with extreme pain due to Agent Orange/Vietnam. He is KIND and LOVING. THUMBS UP on this lens and ANGEL BLESSED!

    • profile image

      pawpaw911 6 years ago

      Great lens. Well done.

    • bharat01 profile image

      bharat01 6 years ago

      Great lens, it was great pleasure, when i was reading your this lens, nice job done by you.......:)

    • davidleetong lm profile image

      davidleetong lm 6 years ago

      What a nice, meaningful lens :) Great job.

    • psiloveyou1 profile image

      psiloveyou1 6 years ago

      What a wonderful lens to shead light on this subject. Very inspiring.

    • gottaloveit2 profile image

      gottaloveit2 6 years ago

      What a beautiful lens and what a great friend you are. You've done a great service writing this article.

    • AlisonMeacham profile image

      AlisonMeacham 6 years ago

      Squid Angel Blessings to you for an inspiring lens.

    • profile image

      ProfDrJuan 6 years ago

      Nice one!

    • profile image

      ProfDrJuan 6 years ago

      Nice one!

    • sidther lm profile image

      sidther lm 6 years ago

      I love what you are doing! Keep up the great work! My son also has autism and every day he inspires those around him.