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Celebrate Differences Serving Up a Pinch of Happiness

Oct 22, 2016 12:20AM ● Published by Shannon Antinori

Photo courtesy of A Pinch of Happiness Spice Shop Facebook page

Since 2007, Celebrate Differences has worked to make the world a better place for people with disabilities. Now, the Oswego-based organization is launching a new program to help give adults with disabilities the skills they need to enter the work force.

“The thing I hear from adults the most is that they really want to work and can’t get a job,” founder Rebecca Christiansen said. “We want to build up the skills they need to hold a job down.”
Adults with disabilities will get the chance to learn those skills hands on thanks to a new business venture. Earlier this month, Celebrate Differences purchased Sage Spice Shop, 74 W. Washington St. in downtown Oswego.
Christiansen said the Celebrate Differences job-training program is tentatively scheduled to start in mid- to late January, but the shop – newly renamed A Pinch of Happiness – will host a soft opening on Monday.
“We’re working with a teacher to form a curriculum for the job training program,” she said. “In the meantime, we will have adults with disabilities volunteer at the spice shop.”
Participants will eventually be hired on at A Touch of Spice as they develop their skills and begin their job searches, Christiansen said. The training program will focus on both social and functional skills.
“How to greet customers, how to handle customer complaints,” Christiansen said. Functional skills will include how to make change, how to work a cash register and computer skills such as creating business newsletters and maintaining a website.
“They’ll also learn how to mix spices,” Christiansen said. “There’s going to be so many opportunities for learning skills.”
The training program will be open to adults of all ages, and participants will be required to obtain a food handling certificate from the State of Illinois.
Christiansen was inspired to create Celebrate Differences by her son, Ryan, who has Down syndrome.
“He’s 12-and-a-half now,” Christiansen said, and will be entering the job market in the not-too-distant future.  “I thought maybe this is time and this is a sign” that a job-training program was needed in Oswego, she said.
Anyone interested in the job-training program can contact Celebrate Differences via Facebook or at 630-885-3006, or send a message via the A Pinch of Happiness Facebook page.

A Pinch of Happiness' hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday and Friday.


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