Sprinkles of Hope gives jobs to people with special needs

By Jonathan Wright - [email protected]
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MAYSVILLE—People with special needs are receiving the opportunity for job experience with the opening of a new bakery.

Sprinkles of Hope is located on East Second Street in Maysville that employs those with special needs in order to give them valuable experience for both their careers and for the real world. Meagan Brannon and Mary Jo Shepherd, the president and vice president respectively, of the non-profit Sprinkles of Hope Inc. are finishing up construction for the grand opening of the business on Tuesday, May 22.

Both Brannon and Shepherd have been working on this plan for a business for two and a half years, and received their non-profit certification in August 2016. The two have been fund-raising ever since.

“We applied for a couple of grants from United Way and from Hayswood. In February, we found this building and have been working on it ever since,” Shepherd said.

The two admitted to having little experience with running a business at first, although over time they’ve managed to find sources who were able to educate them and help plan the development of their business.

“We started working with Mike Jackson down at the Entrepreneur Center, and he helped us get our business plan and our financial plan, and we took his course,” Brannon said.

Shepherd is a special ed teacher at Straub Elementary School, while Brannon works as a nurse at Bracken County Nursing and Rehab Center. Both of them believe their experience with special needs children is what brought them together to provide an opportunity for vocational experience to these individuals.

“My oldest son has autism,” Brannon said, “and we were literally at dinner talking about what’s going to happen to her kids and mine after they get out of the school system, because when they’re in the school system they have all of there supports and IEPs and this team of people, and then when they graduate at 21 it’s called ‘falling off a cliff, — that’s what people refer to it as — so they have nothing anymore. It’s great if you’re high-functioning you can be a bagger at Kroger, or some people who work at Kandy Kitchen, but there’s not enough for all of these kids aging out of the school system that need a little more accommodation for work.”

Brannon said the bakery has budgeted for three part-time employees with special needs who have already been hired. The employees are Justin Bailey, Samantha Major and Calleigh Allen. Two part-time head bakers, Monica Price and Lucy Wiley, are also on board to ensure getting the bakery’s products out and instructing other employees on the baking process.

“Employees will be doing a bit of everything … from helping bake, to helping to decorate and frost, packaging, customer service, janitorial duties and inventory,” Brannon said.

The two said the pastries, mostly cupcakes and cookies but with the menu eventually expanding over time, will be baked in the back of the store, but all of the icing and decorating will take place in the front for customers to see the employees at work.

“We really just looked at what does Maysville need, and we knew that downtown Maysville needed a bakery,” Shepherd said.

Employees were asked to provide resumes and were interviewed for their jobs. Brannon and Shepherd said they intend to give their special needs employees as much experience as possible.

“We tell them we want this to be their jumping off point,” Shepherd said. “We asked them in their interview ‘what is your dream job,’ and ‘what can we help you prepare for?’”

The two hope that Sprinkles of Hope is the catalyst for special needs individuals to find their footing in the modern world.

“We want to show other employers that they’re capable, that they’re very employable,” Brannon said. “They’re willing to come to work, they’re goal driven, they’re excited but they just might need a little bit of accommodation.”

Sprinkles of Hope urges the community to attend its ribbon cutting ceremony Tuesday, May 22 at 9 a.m. For more information, call 606-776-4217.

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By Jonathan Wright

[email protected]