Did you know that April is Autism Awareness Month? To do our part to help spread awareness about autism, we are featuring the Autism Awareness Shop, located in Tampa, FL, in our Nonprofit Spotlight this month.
According to the Autism Society’s website, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental disability that affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. More than 3.5 million Americans currently live with ASD, and 1 in 68 children are born with a variation of it.
Here in the Bay area, there is a shop that is dedicated to not only raising funds for the cause, but also offers employment with those who are living with Autism. We spoke with Jen and Fred from The Autism Awareness Shop, formerly Tampa Christian Supply, about their organization and how it benefits those with ASD.
Tell us about The Autism Awareness Shop and its goals for the Autism community.
Our goal is to increase the independence and improve the overall quality of life for adults on the autism spectrum through gainful employment. The success of this employment will be implemented by intensive and therapeutic on the job vocational skill building at our Tampa Thrift Store location, which is designed with a support system set in place. We also strive to increase awareness and acceptance of those on the autism spectrum through community inclusion and demonstrating how every member of our community has something to offer.
How has your experience been with volunteers provided by ReEmployAbility?
We have nothing but positive things to say about the volunteers provided by ReEmployAbility. Regarding their limitations, they can self-advocate and are helpful, as well as hard working. Some have had no or very little exposure to individuals with autism, but many have taken an interest and have been very kind and accepting.
In your opinion, how does the injured worker benefit from participating in T2W or volunteering in their community?
I believe it is important for everyone to have a purpose. We all need a reason to get out of bed and be productive for our self-esteem and self-worth. This falls right in line with the mission that we have for those with autism, as well.
What is the most important message that you would like to relay to the readers about your organization?
We accept everyone for exactly who they are and offer a friendly, supportive environment for all of our employees and volunteers.
What is the best way readers can sign up to volunteer?
Anyone interested in volunteering can contact us at 813-879-6770 or stop in at 2908 West Hillsborough Ave. Tampa, Florida 33614. If anyone would like to support our mission but are unable to volunteer, we accept gently used merchandise donations, as well as monetary donations.