Connect Plus Therapy is “Growing Green”
At Connect Plus Therapy, we understand the need of programs and services for adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) by creating our latest project, “Growing Green” we are taking a unique approach to supporting individuals with ASD in gaining the social and occupational skills necessary for employment, through the various avenues of horticulture. At our weekly meetings the participants have worked on data entry, internet research, resume building, horticultural education, social skills, and so much more.
Our program focuses on developing strong work ethics, new friendships, and teamwork through basic horticultural applications. Introducing our group to the gardening world has blossomed into more than we could have ever expected. Thus far, each participant has gained experience with propagation, plant care, and has entered plants into the 2019 Philadelphia Flower Show.
With the great success of our previous project, Connect Plus is taking the next step. We are now “Growing Green.” For the past several weeks our group has planted seeds, cared for plants, and learned new crafts to sell at the Haddon Heights Farmers Market. By becoming vendors at the HHFM, our team will gain real world experience while interacting in the community. We will continue to foster the same principles of gaining marketable and social skills. The group’s achievements will be rooted in building customer service skills, networking, sharing employment responsibilities, and earning money from the inventory that we have produced. Join us every Sunday 9:30-1:30 from May until the end of October at the Haddon Heights Farmers Market and help us “grow green!”
Week 1 3/12/19
The Philadelphia Flower Show has come to an end, and our team at Connect Plus has once again blossomed into yet another fantastic “growing” idea! Our adults with Autism horticultural social group is now headed to the Haddon Heights Farmer’s Market. The sky is the limit with VFTFP (Venus Fly Trap Flower Power). For the next couple of months we will be growing vegetables from seed, caring for them, and then selling them at the farmer’s market. We will also be selling various crafts that our team will be creating. Finally, once our own vegetable gardens are ready to be harvested, we will also be selling our home grown produce. Our team has so much to look forward to. However, gardening and crafts will not be the only responsibilities our team will have. By the end of this program, each member will have a completed resume, along with stronger occupational, social, and employment skills to benefit his or her future. I’m so excited to get this started and to watch our team work together yet again to support each other’s highest potentials.
Week 2 3/19/19
Time to head out and paint the town! Tonight we had a special guest lead our team in a paint session. What a hit! Who knew all the talented artists VFTFP has! A very special thank you to Aly Smith for taking the time to teach us all some techniques to help us create one-of-a-kind beautiful paintings to sell at the Farmer’s Market. Our team had a blast, each member was so focused that they all almost forgot to take a break! That does not happen too often. Well done Aly! We truly appreciated all of your efforts for our team! I think we will have to repeat this activity in the near future.
Week 3 3/26/19
Back to the grind… Tonight’s meeting was work. We watered our seedlings, and researched proper care for sunflowers. After that we spent a little time writing out Thank Yous to all the lovely volunteers at PHS that helped us with the Flower Show. Our craft this week was to paint flower pots. I’m definitely excited by how much our team loves to paint… we have plenty of crafts to get done in time for the Farmer’s Market. Tonight we also introduced some customer service tehniques to better prepare our team as vendors for the Farmer’s Market. We started with a video model for the guys to watch and then we broke up into groups and acted out potential sales examples. It went so well. Everyone was so impressed with how smoothly everything ran. Of course, there will be countless variables from customer to customer at the Farmer’s Market and no sales will be the same as the previous. However, our team at Connect Plus carries out all therapy with heart, and by supporting each other. We have really started to show each other the support needed to create the most positive work environment, and to help our team reach its goals.
Week 4 4/2/19
Work night! Tonight’s meeting- simply put… work. We all split up into work stations and rotated once the timer went off. We started creating our individual resumes for each member, painted flower pots red, white, and blue for Memorial Day sales, and rehearsed strong customer service sales prompts. Our conference room was fairly quiet tonight due to all of our hard work and dedication to our tasks at hand. Once each member got through each station, we watered our plants and called it a night. I’m proud of all the great work ethic we saw tonight for Connect Plus VFTFP!
Week 5 4/9/19
GAME NIGHT!! We have been working so hard, and everyone deserves a break now and then, so we unanimously voted on taking turns choosing different things to research, watch, and to talk about.
Week 6 4/16/19
Tonight’s meeting was another great success! Our plants are coming along nicely, we got to water them and check to make sure that everything was “coming up roses.” We also broke into work stations again, painted tiles for coasters to sell, practiced good customer service and sales prompts, and continued plugging away at our resumes. The Farmer’s Market is just a few weeks away, and I’m pretty confident that Connect Plus VFTFP will be ready.
Week 7 4/23/19
It’s getting so close!! Tonight’s meeting was the first one held at one of our teammate’s house. From here on out, all our meetings will be out of the office and “in the field;” tomato and potato fields that is! Tonight we learned how to make candles with essential oils that smelled oh so good! We each made one that we will wrap next week to give to our moms for Mother’s Day. This craft will definitlety be repeated as well so our team can sell them at the market.
The Haddon Heights Farmer’s Market is in 2 weekends! Its every Sunday at 9:30-1:30 from May 5th until the end of October, there will only be a couple weeks that we will not be in attendance, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day. Please come out and show our team some love and support! Come see us and help our cause!
Week 8 4/30/19
Well gang, here it is! Our debut at the Haddon Heights Farmers Market is only days away. We have come a long way, and tonight our Venus Fly Trap Flower Power Team has definitely demonstrated our progresses. We set up workstations tonight to keep a steady work pace and to stay on task. Initially, we reviewed our social narrative pertaining to HHFM expectations and discussed any concerns that our group may have. We then started the timer and split up into rotating stations. We took care of counting inventory, wrapping our Mother’s Day gifts, and practicing customer service sales. I truly cannot express how proud I am to see all the skills and experiences that our team has gained through working together. It has not always been easy and we all have our own struggles, but it’s a great feeling when you know you have the support of your teammates! Speaking of teammates, one of our VFTFP members is celebrating his birthday this week, Happy Birthday to You!!! We hope it’s a great one! And of course… Come out and see all our hard work come to “fruition!”
Our first debut at the Haddon Heights Farmers Market was an incredible success! Though the weather could’ve been better, less windy, less chilly, less rainy; our team stuck it out and even shared some smiles and good conversation. Our group was also able to put all our hard work and practice to real life customer service situations. We couldn’t be more excited for such an inviting and positive environment. It was truly a wonderful feeling to be a part of such a supportive community. Everyone loved our team, our principles, and our products. We even sold out of some of our inventory… But don’t fret! We will make sure our Autism bracelets are back in stock for Sunday 3/19! We can’t wait to relive this success every Sunday, come check us out and help us “grow green!”
Week 9 5/7/19
Well, there’s definitely something going around. One by one some members of our team have fallen ill. So, we decided to have our Tuesday night’s meeting back at the office to have a game night, celebrate another member’s birthday, and to hand out the Mother’s Day gifts that our team had worked so hard to make. And what are they might you ask? Homemade candles! And they smell amazing! We will not be at the Farmers Market this week as we will all be observing Mother’s Day with all our fantastic mothers in our group!
Week 10 5/13/19
Is it May yet? I don’t know about everyone else, but I can truly say that I am done with this early spring weather! And our plants are too! It has been so rainy and so chilly lately, and today was no different. However, that didn’t keep our group from getting done the necessary jobs for this week’s Farmers Market! We started out like any other meeting, greeting each other and working on our conversational skills, and then we split up into stations. We repotted peppermint, chocolate mint, and spearmint, painted coasters to sell, and discussed good customer service tips. Looking ahead at the weather for this week we are all really excited… without jinxing us, I’d like to say that this Sunday’s forecast is warm and sunny!! I hope you come out and see us!
What a beautifully fantastic day! The weather was gorgeous and so many people were out and about and stopped by our tent to buy our plants! This week we almost sold out of our Mammoth Sunflowers! But not to worry we will have some more in a few weeks ready to go! This week we also sold peppermint, chocolate mint, spearmint, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, and some Autism Awareness gear. The guys did great. It was hot, and lots of foot traffic. At times our table had 3 transactions going at the same time. However, our guys have trained for such situations and I’m so pleased to say that they handled the crowds with great professionalism and teamwork. Today was an awesome example of what the Connect Plus “Growing Green” program is all about.
Week 11 5/21/19
Back to the grind. At today’s meeting we created our Farmer’s Market work shirts, watered our vegetable garden, and discussed good business skills. I must say, our t-shirts look amazing! We used tie dye so each shirt is completely unique. Next we can price out some printing shops and get our company logo on them. I can’t wait for us all to have matching work shirts to wear on Sundays!
Another great day at the Haddon Heights Farmers Market. Although some of us did not want to get out of bed, once we were there, we worked hard and had a good time meeting new people. This week we sold thyme, mammoth sunflowers, chamomile, basil, chives, mint, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, and our handmade candles. We only have Lemongrass scented candles at the moment because that is the only scent that all our guys liked. Next time we will branch out a little more and try some new scents. However, people really liked our Lemongrass candles and we only have a couple left! Stop by next Sunday to get your Lemongrass candle or whatever our flavor of the week will be!
Week 12 5/28/19
Today’s meeting was another success. The guys had plenty to do. We repotted mint that we rooted, planted more sunflower seeds, weeded the garden, and made more candles. This time the guys mixed a couple of different scents. Check us out this Sunday at the Haddon Heights Farmers Market! We will have some perennials to sell such as Lambs Ear, Money Plants, and Sunflowers!! Yes, we have perennial sunflowers!
What a great day we had at the Farmers Market. It has been so gratifying to see the guys skills progress in sales, networking, and teamwork. Of course we are still learning and working hard to improve every week. I think at our next meeting it will be good to discuss the responsibilities of an employee to keep our group striving to work together, and to show up to work on time, and to try to separate our outside lives from the time we spend at work. Something we all need to work on from time to time.
Week 13 6/4/2019
No time to spare today! We got right to work as soon as the guys arrived! One highlight of today’s meeting is the amount of focus and determination our members displayed with our stations. Today we repotted mint, labeled all the peppermint, chocolate mint, and spearmint, and painted more coasters to sell. We weren’t supposed to label the mints today, however, one of our members completed all of the repotting necessary for the day so I was able to give the other members a different job once it was time for them to be at the repotting station. How impressive is that? The members typically repot 3-4 plants during the allotted time for that station. This young man repotted 12. What a great accomplishment and a fantastic demonstration of great work ethic. Way to go Growing Green Team!!
We have regulars!! Thank you to everyone that has supported us at the Farmers Market and that have given us business as well! Our program needs YOU! The guys are doing so well with our customers and we are now starting to see some of the same faces from week to week. The Haddon Heights Farmers Market is more than just buying fruit, vegetables, or organic soaps. It’s about community, supporting each other, team work, and we are so fortunate to be a part of it all. Thank you everyone for helping our group gain the experiences necessary to seek future employment and to build relationships with people outside of our group. If you haven’t checked us out yet, please come see us! We will be off next Sunday for Father’s Day but will return Sunday 6/23/19 from 9:30-1!
Week 14 6/11/19
Happy Father’s Day! Today’s meeting was a special one as our participants sat together at the table and shared different ideas to help each other along with their Father’s Day gifts. First, they decorated a mug with oil based sharpies and let it bake in the oven at 350 for 30 minutes. While the mugs were baking the guys discussed different chores or favors they could do for their fathers and wrote them down on strips of paper to make them look like coupons. Once the mugs were down the guys stuffed the coupons in their mugs and put them in gift bags. It was so great to see everyone working together to make their Father’s Day gifts absolutely perfect. Fantastic work everyone!!