It is illegal to discriminate against special needs adults, but many still find job hunting challenging.
Luckily, there is an ice cream shop that aims to hire people with disabilities and help improve their social and intellectual skills.
Howdy Homemade Ice Cream is more than just an ice cream shop. Apart from their ice cream’s delicious flavors, what makes them stand out is the group of amazing people serving the tasty treats.
All of the employees in Howdy Homemade are individuals with special needs who want to work and become productive members of society.
The man behind this exceptional idea, Tom Landis, was a restauranteur who ran sandwich shops and pizza joints. He once hired a young man with Down syndrome and he realized that despite his being productive and responsible, special needs adults are sometimes overlooked in the workforce hiring.
Incidentally, Landis came across a book called Another Season: A Coach’s Story of Raising an Exceptional Son. It was a moving story of famous football coach Gene Stallings and his son. These two incidents inspired him to create job opportunities for people with special needs.
First, he had to think of an environment that could be safe for adults with disabilities. Because his pizza joints and sandwich jobs are quite fast-paced, he thought an ice cream shop would be perfect for them.
It is slow-paced, the job is not stressful, the kitchen is safe, and the customers are likely to be friendly.
In 2015, Landis opened his first ice cream shop a day after Christmas. At present, they have seven franchises in various cities such as Denver, El Paso, Asheville, and Indianapolis. Each ice cream shop provides a safe and fulfilling job for 15 people with special needs.
Landis encourages his employees, which he also calls “heroes” to be open and creative. In fact, they birthed out some of the best ideas at the shops like the ice cream flavors.
Their best-selling flavors are Strawberry Milkshake, Dr. Pepper Chocolate Chip, and Cold Brew and Cookies. Landis said they sell out every time and they are going to open two more franchises soon.
Apart from giving job opportunities to special needs adults, Landis also founded the ice cream shop to show other companies that they can both be compassionate and profitable. For him, it is important to set a social mission first before he thinks about the profit.
“Every day each Hero walks into work with a huge smile on their face excited about serving amazing ice cream to our guests. They love what they do, and we love proving to people that they are all capable of more than what most people expect,” Landis said.
“We have heroes that love to scoop ice cream, some that enjoy being on the register, a few who beg to help with catering events, and an incredibly dedicated ice cream production specialist who makes most of our ice cream for the shop,” he added.
Landis also challenges other employers to delve into their hiring practices. This is because he sees a lot of advantages in hiring people with disabilities.
For one, they process information differently and they don’t easily get bored with repetitive tasks. They like being consistent and they are also very loyal and responsible.
Landis is thankful for all the people supporting their mission. “We’re making a difference every day. We’re proving that people with special needs are capable and valuable employees,” he said.
“We get emails every day from people across the country who celebrate our mission to create jobs for people with special needs through the power of our smiles and amazing ice cream.”
For more positive vibes and gooey goodness, you can follow them on their Instagram page. Make sure to like their page and show your heartfelt support for this fantastic ice cream shop.
Watch Howdy Homemade’s amazing story below: