Firefly Sweet Shoppe Creates Vocational Program for Adults with Disabilities

Since October of 2013, Firefly Support Services has been providing homemaker and personal care services to individuals with developmental disabilities.

With 20 plus years of experience in the industry, Founder & CEO Stephen Fulton decided to branch out and create his own private provider agency. Firefly Support Services assists individuals that live in the community with daily living tasks like cleaning, transportation, banking, bill paying and grocery shopping.

“We also try to teach them skills to become more independent,” Fulton says.

It’s the simple tasks that the average adult might take for granted like packing a lunch or baking a cake.firefly

“On top of that we also contract with the Family First Council through Franklin County Children Services and we provide respite services to families that have kids that have behavioral needs,” Fulton says.

Already social in its mission, Fulton took things one step further, creating a social enterprise with the Firefly Sweet Shoppes.

“I was trying to come up with a vocation program that would be a little different,” he says.

The sweet shoppes employ adults with developmental disabilities in a vocational program that teaches them how to work in a retail environment. Employees learn skills like how to run a cash register, count money, stock shelves, clean and interact with customers.

Fulton knew he wanted to do a vocational retail program and wanted to create a small-town downtown sort of feel, prompting the opening of the first Firefly Sweet Shoppe in October 2015 at 72 S. Main St. in London.

Firefly Sweet Shoppe recently added a second location in Fulton’s Westgate neighborhood at 523 Binns Blvd. The Columbus shop serves as more of a storefront, with individuals primarily participating in the vocational program at the London location.

Fulton opted for candy for several reasons. First, he could purchase a pre-made product and support other local businesses in the process. It also eliminated the need for a commercial kitchen.

Firefly Sweet Shoppes are stocked with treats from local makers turning out a spectrum of goodies. Serendipity from Canal Winchester supplies the chocolates. Three Kids and a Kitchen brings their caramels to the party. Johnson’s Real Ice Cream in Bexley and new venture Nellie’s Ice Pop bring treats of the frozen variety.

The shops support the pups, too. Firefley’s employees make dog treats and toys for the four-legged consumer.

While it sometimes takes some in-store explanation, the social mission is resonating with customers.

“We find people supporting us just because of that cause alone,” he notes.

Even as more social enterprises fill in the business landscape, Fulton says there has always been a big need for jobs for people with disabilities – and their still is – and any agency or company that will employ that group is on the cutting-edge of what we should be doing.

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Photo via Firefly Sweet Shoppe Facebook page.