Blake Satterfield is proud to open the door and greet guests at Special Kneads and Treats on the Lawrenceville downtown square. He shows guests to a table and to the gourmet cupcakes on display behind the bakery counter. Blake has Down syndrome and wouldn’t be the first person many businesses would put at their front door. But Blake and others with special needs are the reason why Special Kneads and Treats opened four weeks ago.
“From his first day here, he has felt included and productive,” said Blake’s mother, Pat Satterfield. “It’s a wonderful thing for our guys to give back to the community and feel accepted and useful. Once they get the hang of things, when they see a need, they get things done and make people feel welcome.”
Special Kneads and Treats at 132 E. Crogan St. is a nonprofit bakery that provides job skills training to special needs adults. It was opened by Tempa Kohler and her husband, Michael, when they purchased the former Sweets on the Square. “We prayed for only provisions and a building and God gave us a bakery with ovens, freezers and an established client base,” Tempa Kohler said. “And now we’re building our own client base. It’s awesome and definitely a God thing.”
The Kohlers opened the bakery to help their son Bradley, 24, who was diagnosed with Fragile X Syndrome when he was 7 years old. Fragile X Syndrome is a genetic chromosome disorder that causes mild to severe mental impairment. “Kids with special needs can stay in the Gwinnett School system until they are 22 years old and then they age out,” said Kohler. “We’re here to employ special needs adults and give them a place to come and work and hopefully learn a skill set that they can take to another location.”
Kohler is operating the bakery with one employee and five special needs adults who often have family members who stay and help with baking duties. The special needs adults have opened the door and greeted guests, washed dishes, cleaned tables, swept the floor and helped with lettering on cupcake wrappers denoting when they were made. They also help in the kitchen when adequate supervision is in place.
Adults with special needs are loyal,” Kohler noted. “They’ll be the first to show up and if you show them a job, they will do it and do it well.”
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Rebecca is an independent publisher working to help siblings of children with emotional challenges.