Ann Kennedy, the sales and marketing manager for WACOSA, said starting a new business was a part of the non-profit’s strategic plan “to serve people who were not getting services in our community.”
WACOSA’s mission is to give people with disabilities “the opportunity to work and live in their community,” according to the organization’s website.
Kennedy said people with disabilities “are such a wonderful, untapped resource. They show up on time and they’re there every day. They are fiercely dedicated.”
WACOSA served almost 600 people last year, placing them in employment programs through companies such as Malco and Docushred.
And they help people with all levels of disability.
WACOSA’s says they practice a “can do” attitude, focusing on their employees abilities instead of their disability.
Kennedy said the organization chose to focus on Asperger’s Syndrome because it “saw an unmet need. There is no funding to help them get out on their own or to help them with skill training.”
WACOSA helps people with disabilities gain the skills they need to succeed in employment through special training programs.
For people with Asperger’s, Kennedy said this involves targeting “soft skills” like understanding facial expression, body language, and social skills.
Kennedy said WACOSA specifically chose to create a retail business because “St. Cloud is such a retail hub. It made sense to stick with retail because there are a lot of jobs in the community in retail, and it would be an easy shift from this training program into an actual employment situation.”
She said the thrift store “is a way for them to bring in some income, pay them a livable wage while they’re working here, and then get them back out in the community. We thought this would be a unique way to help people in our community.”
WACOSA is accepting donations of gently used:
- Women’s, men’s and children’s clothing and shoes
- Books, movies, games
- Small household appliances
- Jewelry & accessories
- Linen and bedding
- Other items
- 310 Sundial Dr.
Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
- 712 Lincoln Loop
Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
THRIFTWORKS! is located at 310 Sundial Dr. in Waite Park. For more information about WACOSA, visit www.wacosa.org.
by Natalie Davis