My wife and I opened an ice cream shop three years ago, and it’s been an amazing experience for our family. Not just the ice cream, although that’s good!
It’s our 12 employees. All but one are young adults with special needs. We have some with autism, some with Down Syndrome and one in a wheelchair. They bless us and our customers each day. They truly enjoy their job and simply pour out love to everyone that walks through our doors.
I’ve been in the restaurant industry my whole career, an industry with a terrible turnover rate. So many people think they are above this work. They can’t stand the repetition, and get frustrated dealing with the public.
One day, I was studying the Bible passage about the disciples fishing all night long on one side of the boat. They didn’t catch a thing. Jesus said try fishing on the other side, and their nets became full. What would happen if we tried “fishing on the other side” when it came to business? And that’s what we’ve done.
There aren’t a lot of jobs for people with special needs. Hope starts to fade away. But people with special needs are thrilled to work, and so many actually thrive on repetition. Plus, they love being around people.
Our goal is to change the way businesses hire people with special needs. We’ve got one company store and one franchise store, but we have franchise applications from 100+ locations that would all employ people with special needs.
This experience has deepened our faith. There were times when we didn’t think we would succeed, which was scary because we had refinanced our house and put our life savings into this. The stress was intense. We had to rely on Him. If God was in this, He would bring us through. And He has.
I believe that if Jesus does exist, we should be fully sold out for Him. The business world is probably the last place where we’re all sold out for Jesus. The almighty dollar is sometimes more attractive than The Almighty. Some people hold back because they think they have to be holy to do things for Jesus. But you don’t have to be 100% good to do good. Try to do something that an unbeliever looks at and says “that doesn’t make any sense.” Then you have an opportunity to tell that person about Jesus. And that’s what we do at Howdy Homemade.