Sara Mae Hickey knew she wanted to be a difference maker for a long time. She considered the Peace Corps after she graduated fromSkidmore in 2012, but she soon realized her most important cause was at home — her sister Emily.
And so at 23, Hickey is the owner of Puzzles Bakery & Cafe, which is set to open sometime between April and June at 515 State St. in Schenectady and will employ adults on the autism spectrum and who have other disabilities, a group studies have shown to be severely underemployed. She's also the president and founder of the nonprofit The Autism Initiative, which helps provide educational and recreational programming to those in the autism community.
Hickey's sister Emily, who is on the cusp of turning 21, has autism and is considered low-functioning. She requires constant care, has a limited vocabulary for her age and is unable to live on her own. When Hickey was in kindergarten, she toted a pamphlet about autism along to class, a result of her parents' longtime involvement with the local chapter of the Autism Society of America. In a lot of ways, Emily's disability shaped Hickey's path.
"My whole life she's always been a big inspiration to me. I've always seen the bigger picture. We know so many families who are affected by this disability," says Hickey, who has bachelor's degrees in anthropology and government from Skidmore College and a master's certificate in nonprofit management from SUNY Purchase. "I don't think everyone really understands it's a lifelong disability. These children become adults, and they live a very long time."
To read more: http://www.timesunion.com/default/article/Puzzles-to-fill-a-special-need-5261216.php#photo-5931224
For more on The Autism Initiative, visit theautisminitiative.org.
For more on Puzzles Bakery & Cafe, visit www.facebook.com/Puzzles.Bakery.Cafe
Contact Sara Mae Hickey about either organization at email@example.com.
Rebecca is an independent publisher working to help siblings of children with emotional challenges.