STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Eden II Programs, a not-for-profit agency serving children and adults with autism, celebrated the grand opening of a new social enterprise, “Encore! A Thrift Store for Everything Kids”, in Tompkinsville.
Encore! is a vocational training program and retail thrift store. It sells gently used and new children’s clothing, toys, and other items all geared to children under the age of 10. The store was created to help Eden II in its mission to support people with autism throughout their lives.
The new thrift store will help Eden II participants to increase their independence, gain self-confidence, and develop relationships in their community.
This type of vocational development provides the support individuals with autism need to obtain and maintain paid competitive employment. They work every day on one of the many tasks it takes to run such a business. They collect items donated, wash and clean all the items and then fill the shelves of the shop, and they even work the register.
Participant parent, Lisa Caldarera, is delighted with this expansion.
“My son, Nicky, is so blessed to be a part of Eden II. He gets a sense of independence and structure with the most dedicated staff who works to provide amazing integrated opportunities for my son,” she said. “He is so excited to come to the store and interact with his friends. When we arrived at the grand opening event, Nicky proudly walked behind the register, put on his apron, and began to help the customers. The first time I came to the store to see Nicky in action was one of my best days ever. I cannot be more proud of him!”
Eden II’s director of employment and business development, Francesca Saraniero, says, “By participating in meaningful daily activities, our participants gain self-confidence. This is powerful and why we do what we do.”
A local customer, Denise Ramirez said, “I’d rather spend my money in the community.”
Eden II Executive Director Dr. Joanne Gerenser explained, “We are expanding our program by supporting individuals with autism to develop the skills they need for gainful employment, by focusing on community engagement. The Thrift Store presents great opportunities to help us advance our mission of serving people with autism throughout their lifespan.”
Encore! is now open for business and will continue to collect donations of gently used or new kids clothing and other items. For more information or to make a donation, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The thrift shop is located at 400b Victory Blvd.