Hi! I’m Cherri Sanes, and through my passion to create an inclusive environment for our son challenged by special needs and others like him, we developed ExtraSpecialTeas, to empower them all to serve their community through the world of tea.
I’m so grateful to have been recognized for my work at ExtraSpecialTeas. Here’s the rest of our story!
We work closely with our participants, their families, guardians and caretakers, shaping the program to their particular needs, helping them focus on their abilities, not their disabilities, to reach their full potential.
Hear it straight from them below!
Cherri has nearly 3 decades of personal experience in the Special Needs Community. Inspired by her son Jache challenged with autism, Cherri wanted him to be included instead of excluded when he aged out of public education. She created ExtraSpecialTeas with passion and unrelenting persistence to make sure special needs adults have a safe nurturing environment to reach their potential.
Alicia has 25 years experience working with special needs children and adults in the public and private sector and we feel fortunate having her with ExtraSpecialTeas from the inception in 2016. Any time we need a new product crafted, she always does incredible research to make sure our products are made from the finest healthiest natural ingredients. Her loving acceptance, patience and cheerful attitude lights up the entire Tea House every day!
Whether the project involves art or baking gluten free treats, Kristen invites each particpant to shine with her warm smile and supportive nature. Earning her masters in Expressive Therapies/Counseling from Lesley University and a BA in English from Mary Washington College, Kristen has over 20 years experience in human services, particularly with the special needs population. She has created and directed the art therapy and baking program for ExtraSpecialTeas since our inception in 2016.
DDS of Connecticut was sure fortunate to have Jennifer working as a special education teaching assistant, a supervisor of adult day care programs, and a transition advisor for 34 years. But EST is even more fortunate to have inherited all that experience and an "all around go-getter" for the last 5 years. Jen's guidance and heart of gold helps participants achieve their greatest potential.
As a tea enthusiast, Hannah researched and developed our three Signature ExtraSpecialTeas and curated our tea lab. After obtaining a degree in Health Science from Northern Vermont University, she became Certified as a Tea Specialist through the World of Tea Academy. Hannah greets our community with a participant that she trains at her side. She offers a wealth of knowledge of the wonders and benefits of all the Teas we serve along with serving up gluten-free treats and plenty of warmth and smiles.
Ed had worked with special needs children for many years and now provides the trusted transportation our participants need via our 2 beautiful EST vans for the past 3 years. If there is a door knob loose, a lamp that needs a tweak or our steam heat system that needs to be maintained, you can bet that Ed is handing out some vocational training to a participant while keeping our colorful building and vans in tip top shape. Plus, he's a wonderful teacher and storyteller.
Yes, Caitlin is Ed's wonderful wife, but she has also been a tremendous EST Volunteer for quite some time, reading to the participants once a week. Her soothing and expressive narration skills make the Book Club one of EST participants' top activity picks! We are ecstatic to now have Caitlin on board full time, bringing with her an infinite amount of librarian and community organizing skills. These skills are very helpful in ensuring the success of outings in our beautiful Berkshires and heading up EST events like our Spread the Warmth!
Sara is the newest member to our team. She is a highly skilled teacher, bringing Human Resources experience, EMT-level First Aid/CPR, and MAP Certification to administer medications to participants who might need them. Human Rights are important to EST and to Sara. She has recently become our Human Rights Officer. We share a Human Rights Committee with Oakdale Foundation and Sara works with our Human Rights Coordinator Rachel Kalin regularly throughout the year to further ensure that the rights of our participants are fully safeguarded.
Headquartered in Chicago, Tiesta Tea jumped on board with us well before we opened our doors. They have tirelessly supported us in an advisory role, consistently donated ‘loose change’ [anything to the right of the decimal point on online purchases], honored us at their annual birthday parties in Chicago, plus provided us with some of the most delicious and interesting teas in the world.
The Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services holds our hands and provides us with the support we need for our vocational day program participants. Thank you, DDS! Melissa Guyer and Joe Harrington we are so grateful to both of you!
Karen Ricardelli, MMA
Accounting, Bookkeeping & Tax Preparation Specialist - Canaan, CT
Director of Marketing, Squaregles - Chicago, IL
Paula Aucoin Blagg, MD
Infectious Disease Consultant, Berkshire Health Systems, retired, Mother of Lindsay Blagg - Lenox, Massachusetts
Donna Leep, PhD
Educator and retired school leader, Mother of Dan Waite - Great Barrington, Massachusetts
Filmmaker/Director, Ben Hillman & Company - Sheffield, MA
Leah Taylor Roy
Federal Liberal Candidate - Aurora, Canada
Enrollment & Outreach Advisor The Berkshires, MA, Mother of Keira Thorson - Lee, Massachusetts
Retired Pharmacist, Grandfather to Jache Sanes - Whitney, TX
Digital Marketing Consulting, Professionality Consulting - Canaan, CT
Brand Strategist, BB Creative - New York, NY
Chairman of the Board, Attorney, Co-Founder of EST, Father of Jache Sanes - Great Barrington, Massachusetts
Clerk, Co-Founder/Executive Director of EST, Mother of Jache Sanes - Great Barrington, Massachusetts
EST is 501(3)c that employs special needs adults paying them at least minimum wage for serving their community in our teahouse as: servers, barristas, craftmakers, content providers, and administrators.