Five days each week, participants are dropped off by parents and caregivers (or transported by our spectacular van) to learn, work, and thrive in our warm and welcoming teahouse. Protection of this vulnerable population is of the utmost importance. We love providing a safe haven for our participants – and other adults with disabilities in the community.
Our community-based day program is headed up by Alicia, our Day Program Manager, and many fun, engaging and stimulating projects are scheduled throughout the day. You might walk in and find several of our participants doing art therapy with Kristen, playing a card or board game with Ed or, if it’s Friday, participating in a group project of preparing a lunch of the group’s choice. During the warmer months, there is wonderful laughter coming from our courtyard garden where our participants maintain the flower beds & pots which adorn ExtraSpecialTeas and play music and sing.
We do activities together, like:
Art Therapy: Participants (ExtraSpecial Servers) regularly have the opportunity to engage in art therapy groups led by Kristen. Art therapy allows our participants to relax, process their emotions in a constructive way, engage in sensory exploration, and connect with others in the group. Our projects are diverse and include: watercolors, acrylic painting, drawing, collage, and clay. Our groups also occasionally lead us outside, where we paint bright pallets for our garden or collect objects found in nature for art projects.
Gardening: Last summer, together with our community friends and a grant from Berkshire Bank, we added new perennial beds with advice and help from our professional Gardner Volunteer, upgraded our walkway to our handicap accessible lift and beautified our lounging platform seating areas where we host local musicians and authors. This year we want to do even more in the garden: host more performances by local musicians, performers and artists to engage community and participants; have participants create a large visual piece to draw community to our garden and promote our belief that “The Future Belongs to Everyone Belonging” and fund the purchase of more beautiful perennials.
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Our supported group-employment program is headed up by Kristen, our vocational teacher. Participants work on the tea room floor and are involved in all the duties of running a tea room – like greeting and waiting on customers, running the cash register, stocking shelves, busing tables, and washing dishes. On Tuesdays Kristen takes a group to do the gluten-free baking for our tea house at The Congregational Church’s commercial kitchen and Alicia and Jennifer head up a group that stamps all our paper goods, such as bags and labels. Participants are paid at least minimum wage for work performed at the teahouse in our group supported employment program. We believe that people with disabilities deserve & desire equal opportunities.