Beneficial Beans Internships Help Pave the Road to Independence

Beneficial Beans and Garden internships help young adults with ASD prepare for community-based employment.

This year was life changing for Kristopher, a 22-year-old adult with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In the spring, after being connected to Beneficial Beans, SARRC’s social enterprise program, he embarked on two new experiences that helped him learn vital workplace skills—internships within the Beneficial Beans Cafe and Garden.

“We were thrilled to learn that Kristopher could participate both at the garden and at the Beneficial Beans Cafe,” said Steve and Kristi, his parents. “He loves working with people, but he sometimes doesn't know how to handle himself or communicate properly. Both environments gave him opportunities to practice in a safe place where he could receive helpful feedback if he made a mistake.”

In each internship, Kristopher learned a variety of practical and advanced skills to help him prepare for future employment. In the cafe, he learned about customer service, cash and credit card transactions, and more. In the garden, he learned everything from planting seeds to preparing and selling community supported agriculture baskets.

“The skills that I learned were social skills, how to make friends and how to work better with the public,” said Kristopher.

In addition to building skills to add to his professional resume, Kristopher has many fond memories of his time at the cafe and garden.

“I remember feeding the chickens and planting tomatoes,” he recalls. “Also getting to see Aaron [the cafe manager] again and make coffee and smoothies with him.”

At SARRC, Beneficial Beans internships include 30 hours of behavior analytic services, and are often referred to as “dress rehearsals for employment” because each intern leaves with employable skills, a resume and work history. The ultimate goal is to encourage and foster independence for adults with autism by preparing them for community-based employment.

Because of his hard work and dedication, Kristopher is proud to be one of the many Beneficial Beans success stories. After completing his two internships, he interviewed and was hired at the AutoZone Distribution Center in Phoenix where he receives and organizes products.

“Our goal for Kristopher is independence, and he was able to take public transportation to get to the internships, work in different environments to develop his skills from different angles, and work with different people,” said Steve and Kristi. “All of these experiences help him to be his own person. We are also very appreciative of the services SARRC provides. Without SARRC, Kristopher would probably still be unemployed, and now he has a full-time job with good pay, benefits and a 401K.”

 

The goal of Beneficial Beans is to apply commercial strategies, tactics and discipline to create employment-training opportunities for adults with autism and generate revenue. SARRC offers internship opportunities within our Beneficial Beans® Café and Beneficial Beans® Garden businesses. To learn more about Beneficial Beans internships, contact Pilar Dowling at 602.340.8717 or pdowling@autismcenter.org. If you would like to know more about social enterprise at SARRC, contact Kate Thoene at 602.218.8223 or kthoene@autismcenter.org.