The employment rate for adults with disabilities stands at 26%, in stark contrast to 76% for adults without disabilities. Local students with disabilities often graduate from high school with little to no work experience. Without any work experience these graduates often go from graduation to their parents couches. More than one parent has reported that they are unable to even find organizations or businesses willing to let their children volunteer to gain experience, even when accompanied by a 1-1 coach. To meet these needs, a community grassroots effort began in 2017 with a mission to “To establish a downtown business or businesses that would support the training and subsequent employment of differently abled adults, being inclusive of all levels of ability.” After consulting area businesses and workforce experts the group decided to pursue a nonprofit status and work towards the goal of opening a café in Historic Downtown Wilson. Spurred by suggestions from local businesses and consumers, the group decided on a café specializing in “Out-of-the-Box” hotdogs, homemade soups, gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, salad options and ice cream creations. The café would be named WhirliDogs as a nod to the town’s centerpiece attraction; the Whirligig Park.
The WhirliDogs Mission
To foster a sense of worth, connection and belonging for the teammates through training, employment and recognition systems.
To demonstrate firsthand to the general public the loyal and hardworking nature of persons with disabilities and the benefits of employing these individuals within their businesses.
To decrease the unemployment rates of persons living with disabilities while filling the void of available trained and experienced hospitality workers to Wilson and surrounding areas.
To provide hope to families by demonstrating there is a place of belonging in the local workforce for their family members with disabilities.