KATY, Texas — At Howdy Homemade Ice Cream, you get "amazing ice cream served by amazing people."
“We scoop ice cream and when I started training, I tasted all the flavors," said Howdy Hero Brandon Todd. "It’s fun.”
The shop’s mission is to create jobs for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“I’m the one who won the homecoming queen,” Howdy Hero Amber Easley said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one out of four adults in the U.S. has some type of disability.
Howdy Homemade was born out of the desire to provide job opportunities to people who have been marginalized because of society’s misunderstanding of their abilities. But what if all employers could be inclusive of these folks? A company called Rangam is trying to achieve that through SourceAbled, a global workforce solution.
“At Rangam, I would say our mission is to promote employment for everyone,” Rangam CEO Nish Parikh said.
Parikh says the company helps integrate neurodiverse talent into professional sectors like IT, engineering, health care, finance, and business.
“We know every individual with a disability, they bring in some strength and some abilities," Parikh said. "It's our job to tap into that and do that mapping to the right job.”
Rangam offers guidance to bring people living with disabilities into the workforce. However, Parikh says the first step is helping companies build and scale up their disability hiring programs to create a culture of inclusivity, especially during the interview process since he says that’s often the most nerve-racking for folks living with special needs.
“We help individuals to take the interview in an effective way, so we are truly screening in candidates versus screening out,” Parikh said.
Candidates like 26-year-old James William Potvin, who says he struggled to find work in the first few months of the pandemic.
“It has been difficult in the past," Potvin said. "My personal philosophy, my first, my personal choice is always to be very open about the fact that I am on the spectrum.”
Potvin says he was diagnosed with a higher-functioning form of autism at 10 years old. Thanks to support from SourceAbled, he’s currently working a contract position where he’s quantifying data and sorting mail.
“At the end of the day, people on the spectrum want to work," Potvin said. "They do. Like, I want to work.”
Potvin says his empathy is a strength that has helped him advocate for himself in interviews. He just needs a chance to show people he can step up and excel at his job.
“That feeling is very good," Potvin said. "The feeling of having like a small community even if at the end of the day, it is work. You know, we're all here to make money. But it is still nice to be part of that community.”
No matter who you are or where you work, Potvin says everyone wants to contribute to society and feel valued.