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State grants help disabled adults find meaningful, well-paying work

Star-Ledger article .pdf – on April 26, 2011 – By Eunice Lee and Eugene Paik

Fueling the growth of these businesses is an influx of grant money targeting vocational training for the disabled. Since 2009, the state Department of Labor has used $7.5 million in federal stimulus money to increase the number of real-life vocational opportunities for people with disabilities.

Community Options, a Princeton-based nonprofit that runs six social enterprises in New Jersey and around the nation, used one of those grants last year to open a tea cafe in Hillsborough called Just Add Water. At another one of its stores, a flower and gift shop in New Brunswick called Vaseful, disabled workers deliver flowers.

State grants last year provided the seed money for Just Add Water, It’s All Good and Green Sports, as well as seven other businesses in New Jersey.

Back at Green Sports, Bartosik said he’s proud to be working. “It’s challenging but not overly demanding,” the young man said as he polished a pair of donated skis. “This is definitely a job I can do. Things are going great.”