If you would have asked me a year ago what the difference between Autism Awareness and Acceptance was, I wouldn't have been able to tell you. I wouldn't have been able to understand that there even was a difference between the two. But thanks to the Crossroads Continuum organization and their wonderful learners, I now have a pretty good understanding of the difference and I want to talk with you about my learning journey over the last year.
I have the distinct pleasure of being neighbors with a school organization called Crossroads Continuum. They serve lifelong learners on the Autism spectrum and their organization is headquartered upstairs from Brooklyn + Rye. I met these wonderful humans relatively soon after I moved into The Landing and I cannot say enough about how truly awesome these folks are. Not only have they supported my business, but they've become my friends and I am simply grateful to be in their world.
Early on in my knowing these kind souls, I was explained the difference between awareness and acceptance. I think we all know the different colored ribbons that represent difference causes. Those ribbons bring awareness. They make us think about a cause or an organization. It reminds us that there is work to be done, money to be raised, people we need to think about.
Ribbons are great but with so many ribbons and colors and organizations, things can often be forgotten. That's where awareness fails us. Every month has a new ribbon, a new cause. That's all fine and good but then I had the chance to meet some of the learners at Crossroads. And the cause became very real to me at that point. You see, I don't have anyone in my world that has Autism. Frankly, I don't know if I'd ever met anyone with Autism until I became acquainted with Crossroads. I knew then that I needed to become more involved.
So I chose Crossroads to become Brooklyn + Rye's charity partner. Giving a portion of proceeds back to this organization helps me further their initiatives and programs. But I crossed from awareness to acceptance when I asked if I could participate in their vocational skills training program. This program brings Crossroads Learners into Brooklyn + Rye to help me with tasks around the store. They help me with jobs around the store and I help them by learning new tasks, practicing real-world skills, and being in a social environment outside of their normal learning world.
My helpers are Connor and William. And they are the light of my week. Every Thursday, they come to the store, help me with various jobs around the shop and, all in all, fill my heart tank to the brim. I am fortunate to be able to be in their world. They're hard-working, endlessly sweet, and they care so much about the work they do.
The program is designed to help them gain critical skills to help them secure jobs in the future. But truth be told, I've gained immeasurably from this program. I'm not talking about the work they produce or the efforts they spend on my store. I'm talking about what they have taught me. These two young men have taught me what it means to open your door to someone on the spectrum. To make room for them at the table. Acceptance means making space. These two amazing young men have taught me how great it can be to open a door. I'm over the moon grateful for them and for their teachers who accompany them. My Thursday mornings truly are full of love.
My ask is this: If you have a business in Metrowest Massachusetts, open your door to Crossroads and their learners. Give them the platform to shine. They will take it seriously, they will make you so proud, and they will fill your heart tank, too. Acceptance means making space for someone to rise to the occasion. Now is your chance to bridge the gap between awareness and acceptance.
For more information about Crossroads Continuum and to check out all of their amazing events coming up over the next few months, visit https://www.crossroadscontinuum.org. You won't regret it!