A new business in College Point is offering individuals with autism a chance to make high quality lavender products while receiving valuable training and earning a paycheck.
The new venture, Chances Environmentally Friendly Products, opened at 15-08 College Point Blvd., on Sept 23 and, like any other business, the workers at Chances are busy making products — primarily lavender-based soaps, sprays and sachets— that they intend to bring to market.
Chances EFP was founded by Marina Horan whose son, Joseph, is a 28-year-old man with autism.
“I was growing concerned that Joseph was reaching his late twenties with no real prospects for work, and I was already doing these kinds of crafty activities with Joseph at home with lavender from our garden,” Horan said. “So, I thought maybe this could help Joseph and some other individuals with autism.”
Horan formed Chances EFP has a nonprofit and embarked on her mission to develop products, create easy-to-follow recipes, design the work process and, most importantly, develop a market for her products, which range in price from $5 to $15.
“It’s been a lot of work, but incredibly rewarding,” Horan said. “I have gotten so much support from family and friends.”
So far, Horan has received orders from the Queens County Farm, Montauk Lighthouse and Fowler’s Garden Center. She also frequently donates her time to sell her products at street fairs, house parties, social clubs and pop-up markets organized by Made in Queens, a program of the Queens Economic Development Corporation.
Chances EFP considers itself part of the social enterprise movement where businesses attempt to find innovative ways to address social needs. The outlook for employment for people with disabilities is not promising, and Chances is going a step further by focusing on individuals with autism who also exhibit some challenging behaviors.
“Sure, these guys have some unusual behaviors, but they really are sweet, and they always do their best. Seeing them be successful is the highlight of my week!” Horan said.