News release: It’s easy to find statistics about adults living on the autism spectrum: 1 in 3 adults with autism are socially isolated; only 14 percent of adults with autism hold paid jobs in their communities. What’s more of a challenge is to create meaningful work for these adults who have so much to offer and ability to contribute. ExtraSpecialTeas employs adults with autism and other special needs, such as Down syndrome, as ExtraSpecial servers. Dan has been employed at ExtraSpecialTeas for about a year. His mother said,
“Our son Dan’s life has been changed through his opportunity to be part of ExtraSpecialTeas - a place of light, learning, and belonging to a larger family. ExtraSpecialTeas has given Dan a purpose in life, a group of friends, and the chance to be a productive member of the community. Dan has grown into a proud and independent young man, with an active role in our Berkshire community.”
ExtraSpecialTeas is a non-profit community teahouse serving teas, bubble teas, gluten-free treats made by the participants and staff. It also offers both a vocational and day program for adults with developmental challenges creating magical possibilities for all who enter through the bright cheery door. The inspiration for the project came about when the founders, Cherri and Scott Sanes, sought out an opportunity for community integration and meaningful work for their adult son Jache, diagnosed with autism, when he had aged out of public school. ExtraSpecialTeas now employs 12 adults with a range of special needs.
Prior to the shop’s opening, ExtraSpecialTeas connected with Tiesta Tea and began a special partnership. Tiesta is a Chicago based company started by childhood best friends, Dan and Patrick, while exploring Prague on a study abroad trip. Tiesta not only creates affordable, accessible, and understandable loose tea for everyone, but strives to enhance everyday experiences by improving the world. ExtraSpecialTeas’ mission, “the future belongs to everyone belonging,” resonated with Tiesta, and they were excited for the chance to directly impact the lives of those in the tea community. Tiesta teamed up with ExtraSpecialTeas to source their tea blends, as well as donating Loose Change from Tiesta’s online sales and fundraising campaigns. To date, Tiesta has donated over $12,000 to ExtraSpecialTeas.
ExtraSpecialTeas celebrated its 2nd anniversary in April, Autism Awareness month.
Contact Cherri Sanes at (413) 429-6500 with questions. Follow ExtraSpecialTeas on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Check out their website to learn more about their mission at: www.extraspecialteas.org or visit them at 2 Elm Street, Great Barrington, Massachusetts.
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