Work with a purpose: Yellow Daffodil offers competitive employment for people with disabilities

PHOTO: KATIE CARNEVALE  / Yellow Daffodil, 194 N. Pine St. in Langhorne, opened earlier this month. Everyting sold at the shop was made by individuals with physical, developmental and intellectual disabilities. Above, Don is a part-time employee who specializes in flower arrangements and card making.

PHOTO: KATIE CARNEVALE / Yellow Daffodil, 194 N. Pine St. in Langhorne, opened earlier this month. Everyting sold at the shop was made by individuals with physical, developmental and intellectual disabilities. Above, Don is a part-time employee who specializes in flower arrangements and card making.

Langhorne’s Yellow Daffodil is not a typical retail store.

The gift and flower shop quietly opened at the Pine Watson Shopping Center on North Pine Street earlier this month, and is gearing up for an official grand opening on Sept. 30  

Inside are ornate flower arrangements, artisan soaps, hand-poured candles, gift cards, even handmade dog beds and toys.

What makes the shop unique is that everything sold there was made by individuals with physical, developmental and intellectual disabilities.

It’s not the first location: The original shop has been on the campus of Langhorne’s Woods Services for 50 years, and there’s a seasonal kiosk at the Oxford Valley Mall. The new location, however, represents a different direction for the concept.

“We’ve had this beautiful shop on campus … and only the people who are at Woods have been able to share it,” said Woods Florist Manager Ginny Page. “To bring it to the public has been the most tremendously powerful experience.”

Woods Services provides educational, residential, health care, clinical and vocational support and services to more than 675 people of all ages.

A major focus for the nonprofit is to help adults with disabilities learn skills that can translate to a position in the community. Part of that is The Woods Enterprises (TWE), a program where businesses hire workers through the program to complete tasks like packaging, labeling, tagging, shipping and other contracted projects and are paid usually at a piece rate.

People in this program also make some of the products sold at Yellow Daffodil. One example is the Autism Soap, shaped in four different colored puzzle pieces, a symbol that represents autism.

“We have a much bigger group of people at TWE that can take on a bigger project like this,” Page said. “I only have a small group of people that work at my flower shop and most of the people there want to work with flowers, they want this as their industry … Whatever their disabilities are, it doesn’t limit them from participating in it.”

While the shop on Woods campus is run mostly by Page and Woods clients, the new one strives to take it a step further with competitive employment, where people with disabilities will work alongside others in the community.

“We really love our store at Woods, but this really, truly is a community employment opportunity,” Woods spokeswoman Cheryl Kaufman said. “We could hire one of our individuals or we could hire somebody from Langhorne.”

Right now, the ratio is at about 50-50, though the goal is to give jobs to the people who fit best, because it is a business that needs to make money to sustain itself. Page keeps the shop as busy as any other florist. She has a steady stream of customers who need arrangements for weddings and other larger events.

The flipside is that people with disabilities need to get workplace experience. Vocational resources for adults with disabilities are few and far between, and according to Kaufman, the trend is shifting toward competitive employment, even though the necessary support is not yet in place.

“The federal government, and now Pennsylvania, wants everybody to be in the community, in competitive employment. We’re trying to prepare for that as best we can by getting people the vocational skills to work,” she said. “The challenge is that there aren’t enough companies who want to hire people who have disabilities, so it’s a steep climb to convince companies to do this.”

Yellow Daffodil is already helping a few people in that regard, and the grand opening can bring even more attention.

On Sept. 30, Woods CEO Scott Spreat, Yellow Daffodil creator Kathy Morrison, Langhorne Mayor Joe Taylor and shop employees will officially welcome the shop to the Langhorne community with a ribbon-cutting ceremony from 2 to 4 p.m.

“I feel like when something’s meant to happen, the doors fly open,” Page  “I really think this is what we’re supposed to be doing.”

 

Yellow Daffodil is located at 194 N. Pine St. in Langhorne. For information, visit yellowdaffodil.org.

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