You find a need, you fill a need” is Melissa Kimmell’s philosophy, which is why she’s working on opening Flour Box Bakeshop, a non-profit in North Scituate that will employ adults with disabilities.
In this case, the need is personal for Kimmell and her family. Her son Jonah was diagnosed with autism, language delay, and Tourette Syndrome when he was two years old. Now an adult, he aged out of the benefits from the programs and services that were available to him as a child, so Kimmell is taking matters into her own hands.
“I had the idea of creating a business with an environment where adults with disabilities can get job training and job opportunities,” she says. “I want Jonah and the people we hire to have real jobs. Most of the opportunities out there are menial jobs that don’t even pay minimum wage.”
Kimmell shares that a bakery works for her goals on multiple levels. She got the idea from thinking about the kinds of the activities that Jonah enjoys and the type of business that lends itself to a process that could be broken down into small, manageable tasks. And, of course, what type of business could be successful?
“Food is universal, and it brings people together,” says Kimmell. “That’s ultimately our goal – to create a business where everyone is welcome.”
When Flour Box Bakeshop opens, neighbors and friends will be able to purchase tasty baked goods while supporting the continued development of adults with disabilities. It will be a family affair, as Melissa’s other son, Gabe, will help run the business, making this dream come true that much more special, especially following the recent loss of the brothers’ father and Kimmell’s husband, Alex.
Kimmell also plans to distribute any unsold products to local food pantries. If the Kimmells find success with Flour Box, she hopes to expand into other areas.
Looking out for Jonah’s future, Kimmell knows she has to make this happen, not only for him but also for other adults with disabilities in the community. “People with different abilities are usually separated from everyone else. In schools, they’re in different classrooms and they’re kept apart in the workplace. We want this to be different,” she says.
Kimmell especially wants the business to be visible, for people to learn about their mission, and for customers to meet and get to know their neighbors behind the counter. Right now, she’s exploring a number of locations to find the right fit for Flour Box to see this vision through.
For details and to help get Flour Box Bakeshop off the ground, visit GoFund.Me/3e0444a6.
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