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Pre-Vocational Teams Lead Pop-up Sales for Wheatley Farms

Pre-Vocational Teams Lead Pop-up Sales for Wheatley Farms

Categories: Blog, Featured News

Members of our Pre-Vocational program pose for a photo in front of their pop-up shops for Wheatley FarmsAHRC’s Pre-Vocational (pre-voc) program provides people with intellectual and developmental disabilities valuable skills that can help them gain meaningful employment. The 29 people who benefit from this service work in groups of four volunteering with community partners.

As the spring gardening season ramps up, one group began hosting individual pop-up sales for Wheatley Farms in Brookville, Plainview and at community events.

During an agency health fair at Brookville mansion, Tristan Matuszak, James Sardiello, Roxanne Wong, Jerry Accarino, Robert Callari, and Thomas Barrett set up a table with annual flowers (flats), potted plants and flowers, and Wheatley Farms candles and soaps. The volunteers took ownership of the whole operation from answering customer questions, ringing up the orders in the cashless point-of-sale system and bagging up orders.

“When they arrive in the morning, we have everything ready to get going, the inventory, the price list, and the iPad to take payments,” said Business Operations Manager Rita Cruz. “They do everything. It’s just like a real job.”

After checking the inventory and materials, they pack up the van and hit the road with their job coach. After a few sales, they’ve gotten familiar with the merchandise and offering it to customers.

“Would you like this lovely flower,” said James with a smile. “It’s six bucks. We’ve got lots of flowers today.”

The Pre-Voc teams rotate often so that each one can learn skills from different sectors and explore their interests. Aside from working with Wheatley Farms, Pre-Voc teams gain experience working with E-works, salvaging computer equipment; The Book Fairies, upcycling books for school libraries; and Party City among others.

As they build their skills, they can think about which sector they’d like to work in based on the activity that best aligns with their interests. In the past, several Pre-Voc participants have taken the next step and sought employment opportunities by joining our Supported Employment Program (SEMP).