A Colorful Day….

A Colorful Day….

One can’t help but notice the recent trend in coloring, not the usual kid coloring, but adult coloring. Every bookstore and grocery store has shelves of these ‘adult coloring books’.

But coloring is nothing new to our own ‘kids’ at ScentsAbility. And they certainly do not need special books. I must admit I look forward to days that are not too busy and the girls have time to color. Sadly the boys are generally not interested.

Their styles differ. Kim is the meticulous one, putting an almost mosaic-like pattern on every item colored. Carmen’s work is quite traditional (except for a penchant for coloring Mickey Mouse green). Jessica is much more creative; anything can be any color — of course! Kortni always fills her pages with hearts and personal messages, and for reasons known only to her, the heads of her people are always squares. Lexy and Jessica had a recent opportunity to meet famed artist Romero Britto, and since then Lexy has patterned her work after his vibrant style.

I must admit I am rather jealous. After all, who doesn’t love a world where dogs can be purple, turtles striped, and flowers grow larger than the houses behind them: a world where the sun dominates the sky, the animals are all cute and gentle, and Disney characters abound. I often wish I could escape to that unique, colorful world if only for an afternoon. Perhaps we should all try!!

She’s Back….

She’s Back….

We missed Carmen. Due to complicated circumstances after her mother’s sudden passing over a year ago, Carmen was unable to make it to the candle shoppe for a while. We spoke with her and Tony, her dad, on the phone occasionally, but we dearly missed her presence.

Then one day a few weeks ago, I walked into the shoppe and heard a deep, rather loud but familiar laugh, and I knew Carmen was back. I had been a bit apprehensive about the ease of her return. A few friends of hers had moved on, new chandlers were regulars, and a remodeling had changed the familiar layout and work areas of ScentsAbility.

Fortunately my concerns were unfounded. Carmen was back, and it was as though time had stood still in so many ways. There she was, meeting new friends, socializing with familiar faces, talking about her ‘boyfriend’ Prince, coloring diligently and volunteering to stir scent into the soy, but best of all — laughing.

As expected, there were a few tearful moments as we all reminisced about her mom, Nancy, who had been a fixture in the shoppe in her own way, but time has allowed those memories to become sweet as they blended with Carmen’s sheer joy — she was back with her ScentsAbility family.

Kortni On a Shelf….

Kortni On a Shelf….

What happens when you mix the traditions and expertise of a 5th generation candlemaker with modern technology?  You get a very special day at ScentsAbility.

William and Isabella Muench, who operated a century-old, family-owned candle factory in Mexico City, recently visited our candle factory.  They observed our volunteers making candles, offering tips and techniques to make their jobs easier and more efficient.

Yet as much as we were all enamored with this couple, who had just that morning flown in from Dallas, they seemed equally impressed, not only with the quality of our candles, but also with an iPad which occupied a place on the shelf overlooking the pouring table.

You see, ScentsAbility is not only about intellectually challenged young adults making professional quality candles, but also about an endearing group of young adults who have become so close that even when one of the members moved 90 miles away, her friends found a way to include her in this and so many other moments at ScentsAbility.

So there was Kortni – on the shelf – via iPad – observing and participating in this event at ScentsAbility, giving long distance ‘thumbs ups”, smiles and thanks to our guests from Dallas.  And William and Isabella smiled and gestured right back at her, a wonderful testament to tradition, good friends new and old, and technology.

A Lucky’s Kind of Day….

A Lucky’s Kind of Day….

It was a busy day at Lucky’s Market in Coral Springs this weekend. It was their one year anniversary, and our team had been in attendance for the ‘bacon-cutting’ opening ceremony a year ago. It was then that Lucky’s introduced ScentsAbility and presented us with a generous grant for expansions. And expand we did: expanded working space and shelving, new trainees for our program, new products, and newly designed labels.

So we were invited to join the festivities and sell our products at Lucky’s to help celebrate our new partner’s one year anniversary. And our staff, some of their family members, plus some teen volunteers showed up in impressive numbers. This is one of the few times I’ve seen nearly every team member attend an event. Too often their own work schedules, family weekend events or simply limited booth space makes that impossible.

As usual the Magic Candle booth entertained the youngsters, and we offered our huge selection of candles, lotions and essential oils for sale to Lucky’s customers, but seeing so many of our girls and guys interacting, working, joking, sharing lunch and just enjoying each other’s company was the very lucky highlight of the afternoon.

Where Everybody Knows You….

Where Everybody Knows You….

Michael makes a sale while Jess and Kelly look on.

This past weekend I decided to check out the ScentsAbility booth at one of my favorite Coral Springs events:  The Festival of the Arts.

As anticipated, I found kids of all ages making Magic Candles and other customers smelling and selecting candles and other products.  Crew members were assisting them with their choices, Billy was taking the money – business as usual.

But I also noticed several people lingering around:  one lady was introduced to me as Thomas’s mom who had stopped by to visit, Josh and his dad had met us at another event and join us whenever they can.  Amy rolled up in her wheelchair eagerly saying hello to everyone.  Others were introduced to me as so and so’s family or friend, or the lady from such and such an event.

Most of their names escape me, but what stays with me is this atmosphere of camaraderie, catching up and simply hanging out at the booth.  Customer sales were, of course, successful.  But what amazed me most was the magnetism of the ScentsAbility team and the friends who follow them.  And this integral connection to our community is something that indeed money cannot buy.

Coral Springs Festival of the Arts

The team had another great year at the Coral Springs Festival of the Arts. It was an early morning rise for Michael, Billy, Shaun and Kim. They’ve proven that they’re becoming experts at setting up the tent and tables for every ScentsAbility event.

Everyone works together as a team to put up the tent then Michael is in charge of setting up Essential Oils, while Kim lays out the candle tins. On the other side of the booth Billy and Shaun setup the table for making your own magic wax candles!

What a team!

The team saw “The Rodeo Clowns” perform and also “Roll the Stones” a tribute band to the Rolling Stones! You guys are lucky!

The team sold their new signature wood wick soy candles, Happy Hands hand sanitizer, Essential Oils, Scent Rocks air fresheners, Scent Silk body lotion, and make your own magic wax candles! We’ll see you next year!

Shaking It Up….

Shaking It Up….

After months of testing, our resident ‘chemist’ (that would be Bonnie) finally perfected our latest product, ScentSilk, a hand and body lotion starting with a coconut oil base and finishing with one of several natural scents.

So it was finally time for the crew to start bottling the lotion and adding scent, a multi-step process, and between each step the scent oils needed to be infused into the base.

Hence, the shaking. Pump out some lotion, add oil, shake, more lotion, more oil, more shaking. A simple enough process, but as usual our workers would make every task an adventure. Kim and Latasha decided to make a duet out of shaking by putting the task to a rhythm. Immediately Lexi and Carmen, who were working on a different job, joined in to the “shake to the left–shake to the right’ cadence. Jamie had his own meticulous, more reserved method, lining up the bottles and pumping his lotion in an almost assembly line manner.

A few hours later, 150 bottles of ScentSilk had been poured, shaken, shelved and were ready for sale. And we all went home smelling like a delightful concoction of limoncella, bali spa, patchouli orange, lavender mint and watermelon.

 

A Volunteer Renamed….

A Volunteer Renamed….

They call me “after-Linda.”   Although it may seem odd, the name is perfectly normal to the crew at ScentsAbility.

You see, on my first visit as a volunteer to the candle shop, over 3 years ago, I was introduced as Linda.  That name simply did not work for Jessica, the President of the organization, because a lady named Linda already worked there.  So Jessica immediately and fittingly renamed me.  And years later the pseudonym sticks, and I’ve become quite fond of it.

Being renamed is not the only surprise that awaited me at ScentsAbility, for I discovered this non-profit after retiring from 29 years in high school education.  Unlike the routine of public education, I find every day I spend at the shop is surprisingly unique.

While I used to get either indifference or a polite “hello” upon entering my high school classroom, at the shoppe I get hugs and updates on each kid’s recent adventures.  Whether it’s a somewhat biased sports report from Billy, a handshake from Shaun, a request for brownies from Michael, I welcome their greetings.  Another day Lexi shows me her most recent art work, Latasha updates me on her ‘family,’ Kim lets me know her work schedule at Publix and Jessica never fails to tell me she loves me (“because it’s Tuesday” – or whatever day it might be).  And Kortni, well, her smile radiates throughout the shop, whether she is there in person or via FaceTime on a tablet.

And for these reasons and so many more, I keep returning to ScentsAbility and learning day after day what these amazing young adults have to offer — both personally and professionally.

Miami Dolphin James Pruitt visits ScentsAbility!

ScentsAbility received a very special visit from retired Miami Dolphins wide receiver James Pruitt. Mr. Pruitt was a natural with the team. He discussed what it was like to be different and how we have to hold our chins up every day. The team took him for a tour of the shop and showed him everything they do to keep the shop running. Then Mr. Pruitt gave each member an “I C.A.R.E” button and autographed everyone’s shirts. Mr Pruitt is a class act!

 

Bright Horizons Magic Candles

Bright Horizons Magic Candles

It was a very special day for ScentsAbility. We visited the Bright Horizons school for special education, some with severe disabilities. The candle making process was modified with automatic pouring machines that assisted those that don’t have the ability to hold a scoop with their hands. The student presses the color they want to use. The tablet they use speaks the command that the student selects. Team ScentsAbility helped each and every student make a magic wax candle to bring home for Valentine’s Day! Great job team! Thank you to the staff at Bright Horizons for all of the incredible work you do for individuals with special needs.