Sometimes we feel we’re swimming against the current. All alone.
When we finally stop to take a breath, we realize there are many around us facing similar fears, challenges, or difficulties. We have company. Sometimes, lots of company.
Often neuro-diverse individuals think their fears, challenges, or difficulties are unique to them because of their disabilities. But…
Challenges and difficulties are common to us all.
A couple of Saturdays ago we participated in a local event, Self-Care Saturday, at Record in Downtown Bentonville. The event gave our cadets the opportunity to interact with customers and to share their experiences with a larger audience.
From a pure financial viewpoint, the event didn’t pay back. However, the confidence and determination Cadet Andrea (pictured with the tray in her hands) gained was priceless.
Andrea was quite shy approaching patrons to ask them to try our delicious breads. I was observing her from afar, and I could see her hesitation. One part of her wanted to open up; the other was holding her back.
I asked her how she was doing. She didn’t say anything about her struggles. Very casually I asked her to go with me to check out our neighboring booth, Kendra Scott (Jewelry).
I shared with the local store manager, Caitlin, our mission and how community events like Self-Care Saturday were a great venue for cadets to practice their customer service skills. Andrea mentioned how awkward she felt approaching people.
The AHA Moment
It was special listening to Caitlin sharing about her first attempts selling to customers: feeling awkward and not knowing what to say.
With practice, however, she started gaining confidence. Until it became natural.
I could see Andrea’s eyes widening with the self-realization that she wasn’t alone. Understanding that feeling awkward wasn’t unique to her, or to those folks who also live with an intellectual disability, was a huge step for her.
No need to keep beating yourself up, when the boat is full of people dealing with similar fears and challenges. And sometimes that boat is overloaded!
Now with her courage-meter high, she grabbed the tray with the various samples and ventured to the floor...walking with her head up, confident she could do it.
And she did! I witnessed how she told others about our mission in her own words. Pride was shining through her eyes.
Later that day her mom told me how Andrea was so happy that she attended the event because she met other cadets just like her.
She left the event changed. And so did I.
When you buy bread from us or eat at one of our local partners, you’re helping us create more opportunities for our cadets. That’s why we say Bread with Benefits!
The Rockin' Baker
Hi, I'm Daymara Baker, founder and CEO of Rockin' Baker. Venezuela native. European-style baker. Proud American and Northwest Arkansan.