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How We Solved The Summer Job Puzzle

Alethea Mshar
Special needs mom and Blogger
07/01/19  8:00 AM PST

The Summer Job Puzzle

We live in a rural area of Northern Michigan, and even for our non-disabled child job opportunities are tough to come by. Beside the diner in town which is more like a dive that has been advertising a short order cook job for the past 18 months, the pickings are pretty slim. When you add an intellectual disability to the mix, the search for a summer job for our 17-year-old son, Alex was a bit of a puzzle.

Don’t get me wrong, Alex would be content to stream YouTube videos and play video games all summer long, but when it comes to spending cash, doing household chores doesn’t cut it anymore.

The Farmers Market

As luck would have it, our tiny town decided to upgrade their Farmers Market, and renovated an old building to serve as a market venue as well as town center. After visiting the market last summer, it occurred to us that we might have our solution.

We live on a 10 acre plot with chickens, a garden (plus squatters rights on our neighbor’s even larger garden) and the start of a small orchard. We have eggs coming out our ears, and when the season comes around, more veggies than we could shake a stick at. Alex has long been my garden buddy, so adding another layer to what we’re already doing was a natural next step. Our growing season starts late here near the 45th parallel, so while we wait for our harvest we wanted to stock our booth with some extras in the meantime. Since our daughter has taken up acrylic pour painting, we had the idea of teaching Alex to paint, and selling his creations. Once we had the idea, we put the pieces together, and on Mother’s Day weekend this year, Alex and I made our debut at the Lewiston Farmers Market.

We’re off to a great start with Alex making money selling his paintings, plus we share the proceeds from the gardens. We get the benefit of the community involvement and all of the learning experiences (for me as well as him) that come with entrepreneurship. Alex takes a bit of the profits each week to patronize the local coffee shop, and next up is a trip to the bank with a hefty deposit.

Best of all, we get to do this together.

Alex is great company on Saturday mornings, and in our busy family, I love having dedicated time to spend with him, something we don’t always prioritize. We have big ideas for growing and expanding, and are having fun along the way. We have a win/win situation with work that’s fun and gives us a great time together.

inclusion on the playground

Alethea Mshar is a Special Needs Mom and Blogger.

Read her blog, Ben’s Writing, Running Mom

Follow her on Facebook


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