Eden’s employment program provides opportunities for individuals with autism and businesses

Last year, Silver Brush Limited found themselves in need of in need of employees to assemble brush sets. It’s a vital part of their production process that requires repetition and efficiency. Thankfully for them, two individuals who are supported by Eden had the right skills for the work.

One of the men in Eden’s adult employment program working at at Silver Brush Limited, packing various brush sets.

Now, two individuals from Eden spend time every week assembling a variety of brush sets for the Windsor-based business. 

“These guys have become a necessary part of our business,” said Warren Flax, Silver Brush CEO. “They’re an integral part of our company.”

Silver Brush Limited — a company that makes fine artists paint brushes and sells them to retailers across the world — is one of several businesses that employ the individuals Eden supports. Starting with Wawa in 1981, the program has adjusted and grown over the years to balance employers’ needs with each individual’s unique abilities.

Across Eden’s day centers, individuals work on a variety of skills that can be transferred to the workforce. From clerical work and assembling items to cleaning and organizing, the employment program’s main goal is to give individuals the skills and independence they need to enter the workforce to the best of their ability. Eden then visits interested businesses to ensure the company would be a good fit for the individuals looking for competitive employment or volunteer work. 

“Eden has made it really easy for us because they’re willing to get in here and do a lot of the setup and do a lot of the training so that we don’t have to start from scratch,” said Warren. “I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how flexible they can be too.” At first, Warren thought the individuals from Eden would only be able to assemble one kind of brush set, but they’ve been able to do a variety of sets during their shifts. 

Once they’re finished assembling the brush sets, Eden’s participants organize them with the other sets.“There’s some setup for sure, but the truth is everybody you hire has a training period,” said Warren. “ There’s some adjustment, and we have to learn on our end a little bit about what their needs are and how that fits in with our needs.”

107 individuals in Eden’s adult services program currently work or volunteer at businesses throughout Central New Jersey. Despite being impacted throughout the coronavirus pandemic as many businesses temporarily closed or slowed down their operations, the employment program has been expanding since late 2021. News businesses are partnering with Eden on a monthly basis. 

“To say I am proud of our population is an understatement,” said Brooks Sanders, Manager of Employment Services, Eden Autism. “Our employment goal at Eden remains the same, which is to astonish potential employers with how capable our population can be for any organization when they are given an opportunity within the workforce!”

For us at Eden, there’s nothing better than seeing the individuals we support take pride in their work and love going to their jobs.

“These guys love working,” said Stacey Maltz, Eden Autism Job Coach. “It’s amazing seeing their faces light up when they go to work.”