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Goodwill, Easterseals come together on World Autism Awareness Day



Leaders from local nonprofit organizations recognize global observance and celebrate latest collaboration on April 2


A new collaboration between Goodwill Manasota and Easterseals Southwest Florida is providing the opportunity for exceptional artists to sell their artwork at Goodwill’s Albee Farm Bookstore in Venice. Adults enrolled in Easterseals’ Art Initiative Program not only get the pleasure of creating the art, they are also benefiting financially.

Starting in late 2023, the nonprofits have collaborated to take artwork created through Easterseals’ Art Initiative Program to Goodwill’s Albee Farm Bookstore in Venice to display and sell; 100% of the revenues from the sales of the artwork go directly back to Easterseals and the artists. This is a pilot program; if all goes well, Goodwill will explore possible additional bookstore locations in which to sell the art.


The partners came together on April 2 – World Autism Awareness Day – at Happiness House of Easterseals Southwest Florida to discuss the partnership and interact with some of the adult artists. In attendance were Goodwill President and CEO Donn Githens and Easterseals President & CEO Tom Waters as well as Brittany Swift, VP of Programs for Easterseals, and Pavitra Ciavardone, Director of Community Engagement & Strategic Partnerships for Goodwill. All in attendance enjoyed watching the artists at work while also discussing some elements of the collaboration that are still being fine-tuned.


The theme for World Autism Awareness Day in 2024 is "Empowering Autistic Voices," which aligns perfectly with the April 2 activities at Easterseals. Many people with autism have some level of difficulty with verbal self-expression; some may be non-verbal or nearly non-verbal. Art can serve as a powerful outlet for self-expression, imagination, and creativity.


Goodwill and Easterseals are longtime partners, collaborating on initiatives to help those with disabilities in finding and retaining employment. The organizations have also been working together to help area veterans through the equine-assisted learning program, Operation1Stride. In 2023, Goodwill presented Easterseals with the Community Partner Award during Goodwill's Community Ambassador of the Year Awards Luncheon.



“Goodwill Manasota and Easterseals have a long history of working together and we’re very happy to have another opportunity to collaborate through this project,” said Githens. “Our mission is to change lives through the power of work; we’re pleased to have the storefront available to sell the artwork created through Easterseals’ Art Initiative Program and direct the funds back to Easterseals and the individuals who created these pieces.”


“Especially on World Autism Awareness Day, it’s really exciting for me to share that what we’re able to do as one of 25 Autism Centers of Excellence is to provide choices, confidence and access to our community and to making a paycheck – something we all feel good about,” added Waters. “The beauty of this project is that Easterseals and Goodwill both believe strongly in the power of partnership and the opportunity to have the abilities of people shine through the power of work. We are thrilled to have a forum for our adults to have their creations shared in a place that will allow them to be sold.”

For more about Goodwill, visit experiencegoodwill.org or call (941) 355-2721.


About Goodwill Manasota Goodwill Manasota is an industry-leading 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that changes lives through the power of work. With philanthropic donations and revenue generated by the sales of donated goods, Goodwill is able to assist people with disabilities, veterans, seniors, and those with other barriers to employment by providing jobs, job skills training, and free career services. For more information or for a listing of locations, visit experiencegoodwill.org or call 941-355-2721.


About Easterseals Southwest Florida Easterseals Southwest Florida has been part of the community for more than 75 years and offers the highest quality of care and services to children, youth, and adults with disabilities so that they can enjoy access, opportunities, and increased life choices. Easterseals Southwest Florida is committed to remaining a leader in special needs services and an organization to which individuals and their families can turn for resources and support with a continuum of care throughout their lives. Visit easterseals-swfl.org.

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