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Rising to the Challenge: Developmentally Disabled Become Business Owners
Sudbury Sun, April 12, 2000
By Sari Huhtala

For many developmentally disabled individuals, a chance to participate in work projects throughout the community provides stepping stones towards independence. Becoming a business owner is even a greater step towards independence, something Janice Cutler would never have imagined herself doing.

“I never thought in a million years I would own a business,” Janice Cutler said. “Yet here it (owning a business) has come a reality. I’d always wanted to work out in the community, but never thought I’d own a business.”

Cutler is one of five participants with the Sudbury District Association for the Developmentally Disabled involved in a worker owned co-operative.

In 1998, the association launched a pilot project, the Jarret Value 2 store, to provide an opportunity for five developmentally disabled adults to become co-operative owners of their own business, said Mary Elizabeth Paonessa, manager of the Jarrett Value Centre.


“They (the disabled adults) have been very independent in operating the business and have done very well,” Paonessa said.

All of the participants have previous work experience at the Jarrett Value Centre located on Notre Dame Avenue, she added. For the past two years, Cutler and her co-operative business partners, have been training under the direction of the Canadian Cooperative Association to learn all aspects of business management. Although Cutler has four years previous experience working in retail at the Jarret Centre sorting clothing, serving customers and working the cash register, this is the first time she has been expected to calculate expenditures, make bank deposits and take care of other financial aspects of the business.

“I’m really excited about this business,” Cutler said. “It’s going to be a real challenge doing everything on our own.”

Since the opening of Jarrett Value 2, the cooperative business owners have also been training to work independently without supervision, she added.

The workers have also learned how to run board meetings successfully, said Paonessa.


“This project is quite unique,” Paonessa said. “It (the project) is really a unique way of finding employment for the developmentally disabled.”

Over the next couple of weeks, the five participants will become independent owners of Jarrett Value 2. Funding toward the project was received from CEDTAP, the Community Economic Development Technical Assistance Program.


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