A father's dream of finding meaningful work for his special needs son is now helping countless other families.
Larry Collette set out to make a difference in his son’s life when he realized there were thousands of other families in his same situation. They were all unable to find the right spot for their adult children with special needs.
So Collette bought a farm, one that has a place and a job for everyone.
“There’s so many different activities, whether it’s taking care of animals, splitting wood, carpentry, cooking, sewing- these are life skills and there’s always something to do on a farm,” Collette said.
It’s a working farm, just like any other with a purpose much different than most.
“It’s literally changed their life, people come out of their shell and when they’re contributing, they’re happy,” he said.
Special Dreams Farm in St. Clair Twp. Is a place where adults with special needs can work and learn meaningful life skills.
“It gives them a purpose, it makes them feel like they’re contributing, it builds self-esteem, really builds confidence,” Collette said.
Students with special needs in Michigan are able to attend school until age 26 then, they’re on their own which was a rough experience for Collette and his wife after their son Greg aged out of the system.
“When Greg timed out of the system at 26 they gave my wife a stack of applications to go get Greg a job in a competitive environment,” he said. “It was the most humiliating experience she’s ever been through.”
In effort to avoid that, Collette invites young adults like students from Grosse Point North to visit and work at Special Dreams Farm even before they graduate.
“They feel good about what they’re doing, they’re learning, they’re getting exercise, socialization is huge, they work in teams a lot and this is kind of a socially isolated population,” he said.
Done with focusing on what someone can’t do, at Special Dreams it’s all about finding what you can do.
“They can also carry some of this skill building later on and possibly get another job someplace,” Collette said.
Special Dreams Farm is a nonprofit organization and they need your help to keep the farm running. You can donate on their website.
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