In October of 2019, over a plate of tacos and cheese dip, the mothers of three young men on the autism spectrum gathered to discuss the future of their sons.
But, as Sue Swanson, CEO of Three Basketeers, said, “there aren’t many jobs for adults with special needs.”
“[All the moms] … were talking about what would happen when our boys aged out of high school,” Swanson said. “There aren’t many jobs for adults with special needs, so we thought … if we can’t beat them, we’ve got to join them. We’ve got to do something for ourselves.”
Three Basketeers, a nonprofit that “showcases the special gifts of adults with developmental disabilities,” officially opened its doors on Dec. 1, 2019, with three founding members: Brett Swanson, Luke Graves and Daniel Abadie. The Basketeers create custom gift baskets for purchase.
Since opening, Abadie has moved on to follow his personal passion, voice acting, and has started his own voice-over company, Vivid Vocals VO.
Now, two and a half years later, Three Basketeers has five employees, offers over 10 gift basket choices with 20 handmade products and has a new storefront.
Three Basketeers will be hosting an official grand opening from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, April 30, at the new location, 6805 Keith Bridge Road in north Forsyth.
The nonprofit began on the bottom floor of a small strip of offices in the city of Cumming. Since growing, vocational coach Sandra Tanner said the company would need more room.
In late January, Tanner said the company packed up its bags and moved north to the intersection of Keith Bridge and Jot Em Down roads.
“It was an easy transition to be honest,” Tanner said. “We got volunteers to help us move things, and the landlords on both ends helped with paperwork.”
Tanner said family members and friends of the Basketeers helped move stock, build shelves and get the new location ready to open.
“It was nice to see the community come out to help us move,” Tanner said.
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While the Basketeers are still settling into the new storefront, Tanner said she has already seen an improvement in the employees’ efficiency and teamwork.
“It’s so helpful to have this open space for [the Basketeers] to work,” she said.
The office comes complete with a check-in and check-out station where guests can peruse an assortment of ready-made items and order a gift basket. Tanner said that customers are welcome to sit in the waiting area or run errands while a basket is created.
The main workshop is open with smaller rooms branching off for a break room and storage.
Tanner said the new location includes an ADA-compliant bathroom, so the company could “employ people with physical disabilities as well.”
Since opening at the new location, she said that the nonprofit has been able to hire new employees. The Basketeer count is now five with the first female employee joining the team for an internship this summer.
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Tanner said she anticipates the grand opening and new storefront will garner exposure for the company, showcasing the “hard work these Basketeers do.”
“We’re hoping to see a lot of foot traffic and to have the parking lot full during our grand opening,” Tanner said. “We want folks to know where we are, what we make, how we make it and how their support will increase work for our Basketeers.”
With new work comes the possibility to hire additional workers, Tanner said, and she hopes that the team of employees continues to grow.
“More customers equal more work which then translates into more job opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities,” Tanner said. “With this grand opening and this exposure, we hope that people realize what our employees can do — we look at the abilities, not the disabilities.
“It’s such a common phrase to say, but it’s true,” she said. “Our employees can do [the work], even if they’re not traditional employees.”