Matthews thrift store celebrates 5 years of job training for adults with special needs

Matthews thrift store celebrates 5 years of job training for adults with special needs

MATTHEWS, N.C. — A boutique thrift store is celebrating five years of helping our community.

It's not what they sell at ZABS Place, but rather the job training for adults with special needs.

[Family Focus: Local summer camp helps children with special needs]

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"We set out to create an environment where everyone and everything could both shine," said Rochel Groner, director of ZABS Place.

Thrift stores are full of treasures and at ZABS place, among the stacks of books, resoled shoes and vintage jewelry, you'll find the real gems.

"Whenever we get kind of unusual things or things that are different, I write the Etsy posts," Lauren Miller said.

Miller is among the young people sharpening skills and building a resume at ZABS.

She hopes to get a full-time job and live independently.

"It means a lot. This is the first place I've ever been to where you just fit in no matter what," she said. "I've never had that before."

"We want them to get to their level of independence, whatever that may be," said Groner.

Workers said ZABS is a place where confidence grows from the community.

"I had never had the opportunity to be part of a community," said Natasha Brown, who runs the back room. "I've been doing this for two years and I love it."

She's got a system down.

"I've learned how to use a cash register, count money," said Brown.

Graham Wollinger works in the men's department and said he was a little nervous when he started working there.

"Kind of a pro," he said Monday.

In the past five years, 127 young people have found their place at ZABS Place.

"Giving young people with disabilities a chance to reach their full potential in a way they couldn't without ZABS," said Miller.

ZABS Place is dedicated to individualized training programs for their special talents.

They also help each member create goals, such as applying for full-time jobs.

Before, they were keeping track of everything in notebooks and files.

The nonprofit, Apparo, links other nonprofits with technology solutions and helped them streamline their workload with new software.

Groner said it was a game-changer.

Apparo has worked with more than 500 Charlotte-area nonprofits to maximize their efficiency with new technology.