New Gift Shop in Old Town Helps People with Disabilities

If you’ve passed by the address 122 S. Patrick St. in recent times, you might have seen a brand new shop with a black signage that features red and white letters boldly declares it to be The B.E.S.T Store for Gifts. If you know the incredible background to the store and you’ll see that the claim isn’t that bold after all.
B.E.S.T is “Building Employment Solutions Together” and is a partnership among ServiceSource, the Joey Pizzano Memorial Fund (JPMF) and ServiceSource to create meaningful jobs for disabled people.
“This is a plan that’s been in the working since before the pandemic in the latter half of 2019. The Pizzano family as well as JPMF approached us with an idea to create an initiative for disabled adults to attend every day, acquire the skills needed to be a successful worker, and participate in meaningful activities, which is closely aligned with many of the programs we have currently,” explained Theresa Piccolo as a Division Manager of Long Term and Community Integration Services for ServiceSource. The pandemic was a major issue, and caused the program to be put for a while until July.
B.E.S.T program is described as a mobile crew consisting of four members and one staff member who is keen to work with companies to address their everyday service requirements. Services offered could include inventory and stocking items, shredding, assembly and copying, light-cleaning (vacuuming and sanitizing, as well as dusting) as well as light garden work (watering plants) mail/packets, custom chores and cleaning gym equipment.
“Right now what we are doing is training them (program participants) on various tasks, sweeping, gardening, we are getting them prepared to work in the store so greeting, stocking over there, stocking in the program location, those are a few of the things that we are starting to build their skills up with so that post-COVID we’ll be able to market them better,” said Monita Garrett, the Program Manager for the B.E.S.T program.
In September, The B.E.S.T. gift shop was officially opened with the ribbon cutting ceremony scheduled for the last day of October. Larrisha Leach, the Marketing and Sales specialist for the store. She explained that the goal of the shop’s gift store is “to show the community what people with disabilities can do and on the other side to support our people with disabilities, small businesses, big businesses, promoting them and getting them more spotlight.”
The store’s inventory is sourced from artists and people who have disabilities from all over the world, including some local ones such as Bloom craftsmen who are based at Oakton as well as Arlington Weaves, Etc. Visitors to the shop can purchase jewelry, scarves, soaps candles, cards, bags for totes, prints, paintings, and many other gorgeous and distinctive items to buy.
Although it hasn’t received much media attention, the community have been noticing the brand new store. “Our glass display and the B.E.S.T. gift shop has caught the eye to the public and people have been stopping by and are looking for what’s the best thing about The B.E.S.T. Gift Shop?’ Leach described. When they discover that the wonderful items were designed by people who have disabilities and they’re incredibly accommodating.
“I think it kind of brings it home too when they realize that there’s a day support attached to the store so that they’re able to see individuals with disabilities and what they’re actually doing…not only are we selling their products but we’re actually advocating for them to make more products,” Garrett said.
The B.E.S.T Gift Shop is located at 122 S. Patrick St. and is open from Monday to Friday between 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.