Why this Matthews thrift store hires only young adults living with disabilities

Why this Matthews thrift store hires only young adults living with disabilities

MATTHEWS, N.C. (WBTV) - In his role at ZABS Place boutique shooting weekly “Wish List Wednesday” videos, employee Joseph Gallagher uses his voice.

“I was born with cerebral palsy,” Gallagher says. “And the doctors thought I couldn’t really walk or talk. But I surprised them.”

What does not surprise his bosses is his work ethic – his, and the rest of the thrift store’s staff members with disabilities.

“They’ve been limited in what they’re allowed to try,” co-founder Rochel Groner says. “They’ve been told, ‘Oh, that’s going to be too hard for you.’ And we kind of take all of that and put it on its head.”

At ZABS, it is all about uncovering passions, for the young adults who work there. The staff is entirely made up of young people living with what they call ‘special talents.’ The co-founders say they would work with local children with disabilities who would reach a certain age, and really not have many opportunities available to them. They wanted to help fix that.

“The excitement and the joy that they get from accomplishing things is really, really incredible,” Groner says. “And they notice their own progress.”

The goal for the downtown Matthews shop is to teach their staff skills like multi-tasking and customer service, then send them off to other jobs across the community.

“We want to not exist,” Groner says. “That every place that employs people should be looking at them for who they really are, and what they really do, and not kind of writing the script and fitting people in.”

For many of the employees, the best part is that they are all seen for their individual potentials.

“Being able to use the talents that I have, and being able to brighten people’s days,” Gallagher says.

“They just want the opportunity to shine,” Groner says. “And they really do shine.”

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