As Dougie Jr. entered into his 20s, the Foundation felt compelled to do something about the staggering unemployment rate — 90 percent -- for individuals on the spectrum. When one of our Board members shared the tremendous work Extraordinary Ventures (EV) in Chapel Hill, North Carolina was doing to employ adults with autism, the team decided to learn more.
In September 2014, I was hired by the Foundation to study the EV business model. This was a dream come true. I spent a month working alongside the EV staff learning about their portfolio of micro-businesses and their approach to creating jobs for young adults with autism. I left North Carolina inspired by how the Foundation could use this model to create opportunities for adults across the entire autism spectrum in our own Boston backyard.
And in February 2015, Flutie Spectrum Enterprises (FSE) was born. I was hired as the Managing Director and tasked with shaping an office solutions business -- providing mailing, shredding and assembly services. By June, we had found our first customer and quickly hired our first employee. We continued to grow steadily and, today, we proudly employ five ASD adults on our FSE team.
These employees have taken on a wide range of projects, which have included:
- Assembling newsletters and invitations for other local autism organizations
- Folding & bagging t-shirts for a promotions company
- Attaching magnets to flyers for a car consultancy business
- Mailing 3-5K flyers each month for a manufacturing company
- Stuffing holiday cards for both families and larger businesses
One of our employees, Joey, works on site for Nancy Z. Bender Insurance Agency in downtown Boston. While on-site services were not a part of our initial business plan, we saw the potential for Joey. Joey started off shredding documents, but his responsibilities quickly grew. As Nancy recently said, “Show him something once and he gets it. His attention to detail is remarkable.” This is a great example of a customer who was initially interested in FSE because of our mission and has reaped the benefits through the quality work.
Not only are we hearing from satisfied customers, we see the impact these jobs have on our ASD employees. Justin and Billy work at FSE and have been assigned to a major shredding project for Blouin & Company, a financial/business management firm. Dave Blouin, founder, came to us to help dispose of decades’ worth of old documents and files. It’s terrific to see Justin and Billy working together and experiencing accomplishment by learning new skills and finishing the job.
With all of this experience under our belt, Flutie Spectrum Enterprises is prepared for more. My goal is to find new, consistent customers for FSE so that we can give more adults on the spectrum the opportunity to contribute. Perhaps you own a business and could use some help with weekly or monthly mailing jobs? Or maybe some assembly work that needs to be done by hand? There is no shortage of ASD adults who are eager to learn and work hard for you - all they need is the opportunity. Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in hearing more about an FSE partnership.
All my best,