PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y., Jan. 9, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- All Stella Spanakos wanted for her only son was a steady job and a happy life. Unfortunately, like 1 in 68 children in America today, her son Nicholas was diagnosed with Autism and instead faced a future shrouded with uncertainty and fear. Such apprehension is understandable considering the dearth of employment opportunities for these individuals with unemployment estimated at 90%.
As Nicholas approached graduation from high school his father, Stella's husband died suddenly at the age of 55. Moved to act, Stella founded The Nicholas Center for Autism and Spectrum Designs Foundation with the vision of providing training and employment to individuals with Autism.
Spectrum Designs, a social enterprise based out of Port Washington NY, specializes in apparel customization, providing anything from T-Shirt printing to embroidery, to a whole range of promotional items. Since its inception in a backyard barn in 2011, Spectrum has grown rapidly with the support of the local area. Now in its 4th year with its own 1500 sq ft print shop, Spectrum finished 2014 with over $500,000 in sales and launched its capital campaign "Believe".
"The focus for our 'Believe' Campaign was to look to our employees and their families to better understand what's important to them and their lives," said Nicole Sugrue, Co-Founder of Spectrum Designs. "The overwhelming response was that parents and individuals prioritize employment and productivity, a happy healthy lifestyle and continued enrichment."
President and Co-founder Patrick Bardsley looked to companies he admires for inspiration. "Looking at business models like Google and Facebook, the 21st Century working environment is more fulfilling through a focus on the work-life balance. It is not uncommon to see a gym or social areas within the workspace. It is our belief that this is even more important for our population."
Spectrum now looks to its supporters and the community to help them in their expansion efforts through the "Believe" campaign. Hoping to raise $250,000, they received a jump start from a donor pledging to match up to $40,000, and a $10,000 grant from the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation. "Someday all Nicholas will have is Spectrum Designs and what we've built here for him and others like him," Stella said. "With the support of the community, we can show we 'Believe' in their ability to make their own futures."
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SOURCE Spectrum Designs Foundation