By Maria Valdez Haubrich
One of the reasons my partners and I decided to start a business was the freedom to set our own hours and to focus on issues important to us—personally and professionally.
So when my partner handed me a story from People magazine about a New Jersey entrepreneur who started a business so his adult autistic son can have a job, learn responsibility and at the same time, boost his self esteem, it hit home in a couple ways.
As a mother of a nine-year old autistic boy, it’s all-consuming just to get him through difficult academic and social issues on a day-to-day basis. It’s scary for me to think about the future. What will life be like for him when he’s an adult and possibly living on his own and fending for himself? Who will hire him? Will he be able to handle unstructured situations? What if someone doesn’t understand and gets mad at him? I could go on, but it stresses me out too much to think about it.
People magazine recently profiled Don Bennetti, who must have felt the same when he envisioned and founded Men with Mops, a cleaning and odd-jobs service business staffed by autistic adults. His 29-year-old son, Luke, and others can now hold down a regular job. With his business, Bennetti has given them a sense of purpose and a familiar routine autistic people require. Plus, the employers are getting a quality service from adults who are by nature very detailed and thorough.
I’m thankful for people like Don Bennetti who break down social discrimination by opening people’s eyes to see the good in things they don’t understand. My partners and I started our business to help, encourage and celebrate entrepreneurs like Don Bennetti—dedicated and risk-taking people who have the ideas and the passion to make their dreams a reality.