My name is Andreas Mills, and I am currently working with ScentsAbility. ScentsAbility is a non-profit organization that assists people with Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities, or I/DD. ScentsAbility is also a work pillar of the IDDeal foundation, which is rooted on the acronym I/DD. Little did I know at the time, ScentsAbility was founded back in 2009. Back then, I was only four years old, just getting ready to start pre-school. That was also my first year attending the Light House’s summer camp program. It’s crazy to think that around the time of my first steps into school, Bonnie was creating ScentsAbility. Now in 2023, I am 18-years old, fresh graduate from High School. And now ScentsAbility is taking its next big step...
ScentsAbility is currently working on a new project called Empower Ability. It provides and teaches students with I/DD soft skills necessary for employment, as well as creating their own scented products.. The target demographic for Empower Ability is 18+, and anyone with, or connected to someone with, I/DD. We have partnered with Leadership Broward, and assembled a team to help market our Empower Ability project. A team which we have dubbed Scents8tional. Scents8tional’s mission is to strategically market, promote, and increase awareness and sales of the Scents Ability transitional program and product lines. And the vision we strive for is to Empower the I/DD community through inclusivity, personal growth, and community support.
After sitting with ScentsAbility and their new partners, I was left a little speechless. I did find it interesting to learn about ScentsAbility’s history and what they have planned for the future as far as the group project goes, but I was out of my league experience-wise. I stood up in front of an audience with my job supervisor, Bonnie, as well as a fellow artisan named Michael. I can safely say I was beyond nervous while I was up there, especially when my time to speak came. Even so, I’m glad I did it. When all is said and done, going on stage was another big experience for me. And I don’t think I would have felt right if I declined the offer to do it.
I really love the idea of Empower Ability, our new project. It opens the doors of opportunity for people with I/DD. Or rather, it provides them with the key necessary to open it themselves. At the time of writing this, I am a few days away from getting to see how the Empower Ability program will work, and I couldn’t be more excited. In a way, it’ll also be a great learning experience for me. Getting to learn about different soft skills. Learning the process of creating all sorts of scented products will also be interesting.
Getting into ScentsAbility was a rare opportunity that I wasn’t expecting at first. But through the assistance of the Lighthouse of Broward, I became part of this great experience. The Lighthouse is a beacon of hope for visually impaired or blind people, helping them gain independence. And in summer of 2023, they connected me with the wonderful ScentsAbility. I really love the atmosphere and vibe of the ScentsAbility candle shop. Even more than my own home, the candle shop always evokes a feeling of tranquility the moment I walk in. Every artisan cares for each other like family, and I also feel the same way. I’ve had many new and exciting experiences so far, and I hope to have many more in the future. Despite my visual impairment, getting around the ScentsAbility candle shop is as easy as getting around in my own house. And I’m able to contribute to the company as well, through writing its blogs. Remember that no matter who you are, do what you can, the best that you can, with what you have.