Abilis, the non-profit organization that provides services and supports for more than 700 individuals of all ages and abilities with special needs and their families, in conjunction with its Competitive Employment Program, is offering a special treat this summer with the sale of Grahamberries. Grahamberries are organic blueberries sold at the Abilis Gardens & Gifts store, at Greenwich Town Hall, the Greenwich YWCA and YMCA, and other locations throughout town. Other Abilis programs in Stamford, Wilton and Westport will also participate in selling the blueberries and they can be ordered for delivery by calling Abilis at 203-531-1880 ext. 101.
Grahamberries is a unique partnership with an organic blueberry farm in upstate New York owned by Peter and Philippa Orzulak. Peter and Philippa’s son Graham, age 28, who as an infant was diagnosed with Angelman Syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects the nervous system, created Grahamberries to help provide employment for their son and others with special needs. Graham has been a long-time Abilis client, beginning with the Early Intervention services in Abilis’ Birth to Three program. As Graham approached adulthood, his family wanted him to have opportunities to be more independent and that included a job. Abilis helped coordinate an individualized day program, residential living and an employment plan, which including selling and delivering organic blueberries from his family’s farm.
“We knew that having a child with special needs would require some creative thinking when it came time for our son to have a job,” said Philippa Orzulak, Graham’s mother. “As our son was graduating school and was ready to work, we started thinking outside the box and worked with the Abilis Competitive Employment team to come up with some work that Graham could do. He started with a paper shredding business and then serviced two snack machines. We started our organic blueberry farm in 2011 and decided that extending the blueberry sales to the clients of Abilis would be a good way to help individuals interact with customers, perfect their sales techniques and learn new job skills. Currently, more than 20 different individuals in the Abilis Competitive Employment program help deliver blueberries throughout Fairfield County along with Graham. Graham loves selling blueberries around town so much, he is often referred to as ‘the Blueberry Mayor of Greenwich.’”
The Grahamberries Blueberries will be sold starting July 15 through mid-August (while supplies last) and will be sold at the Abilis Gardens & Gifts, Greenwich Town Hall, the Greenwich YWCA and YMCA, and other locations in Stamford, Wilton and Westport. Pre-orders can be made by calling Abilis Gardens & Gifts at 203-531-1880 ext 101.