All of them are made from donated wood pulled from old furniture, and all of them are painted, mod podged, and stenciled by special needs students in Anoka-Hennepin Schools’ T.E.A.M. (Teaching Employability through Assessment and Manufacturing) program.
“Our goal is to provide students with the opportunity to develop work skills before they go out into the real world and get a paid job,” said Special Education Work Coordinator Erin Rischer.
Job coaches help the students learn about woodworking, painting, and other skills.
“Everything is modeled and taught to them,” said Rischer. “Then the students will, independently, go complete the job tasks.”
Seventeen-year-old Destiny Johnson attends Coon Rapids High School, but this school year she’s come to the store to work every day.
“I was shy before I cam here,” she said. “I didn’t really like to talk to people. I was really shy and stuff and I came out of my shell, and now I know how to start a conversation. They’re really, really happy here and they have really good positive energy here.”
Johnson wielded a power drill as she helped attach a lamp to a picture frame, while at the same table, Paige Slininger worked on painting a dragonfly wall hanging.
“Sometimes, I do stencling, mod podging, and I get to paint, too, as well,” said Slininger, who is 17 and attends Andover High School. She and Johnson both said the program was more beneficial to them and their particular needs than other school programs.
“It helps me feel that I get to do more projects than I do at school,” Slininger said.
All of the proceeds from the store go back into the district and programs like T.E.A.M.
“By the time they’re done here, whether it be a trimester or for a whole school year, they become very independent,” said Rischer.
The store is open from 8:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and until 7:00 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month.