With the holiday spirit in full swing, we are proud to see the kids of the College of Marin special needs students program has been such a great gift to everyone here at the shop. 

Pioneered some 7 years ago by 101 team member Tom Nadzam the program provides a bridge to helping Special Needs students gain real-world work skills. Tom has been working with College of Marin teacher Steve Maldonado setting up routines and schedules to introduce the kids to different kinds of work in the search for the one that best fits their skill sets. From cashiering to cleaning, to doing inventory, the kids get to try out different jobs to find one that hopefully can help bridge them to employment. After a few visits a routine develops that sees the kids taking the initiative to dive right in when they arrive. First, they start to tackle some basic cleaning go straight for the Windex, towels, and squeegee, and in a short time then shift gears to work each rack inside the store, doing size runs of clothing, properly setting hanger spacing, and adding size rings.

"It's amazing to watch and their impact is obvious, the store actually looks sharp and crisp." says Nadzam. "My plan in the early spring is to add basic customer service greetings and retail "best practices" and focus on things such as bagging merchandise and showroom maintenance." he continues. The kids not only learn the skills necessary to get a job they also are able to work on getting comfortable in a more social setting and the growth they have shown has been an inspiration to everyone here at the shop. 

The programs success has been beyond what we thought was possible even seeing one of the program graduates, Grace Larner Difilippo, to get a job here at the shop 2 days a week. Grace has been here over a year now and has shown us with a little extra patience the rewards far outweigh the efforts. 

"It's such a joy to work with them. We've touched a lot of lives over the years and given numerous students a purpose and sent them away with valid skills. It has helped me to be patient and present, it's been a two-way street." says Tom. 
One of our favorite quotes here at the shop is "You will always get more than you give as long as you ask for nothing in return." We could not be more proud of the work Tom has put in and we know that in this case, that quote is spot on. 


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