Garden center provides jobs for people with disabilities

May 2, 2010 (CHICAGO)

One year ago, Seguin Services, a not-for-profit organization in Cicero, opened a state-of-the-art gardens and gifts store. It is not only providing income for the organization, it is giving people with developmental disabilities employment opportunities.

Beautiful, colorful flowers.

Greens that promote healthy environments.

Horticultural classes.

Gifts for everyone at any time

Welcome to Seguin Gardens and Gifts.

Julie Leach is the director of marketing and business development.

"We employ approximately 16 individuals right now who do everything from water plants, plant bulbs, plant seeds, take care of the flowers. They act as cashiers and they work in our retail area, and they also work around the grounds to make our exterior of the building beautiful for our customers," Leach said.

One-hundred percent of the profit goes back to the organization.

"We're making enough money to be able to cover our expenses for all of the products we bring in," said Leach, "but when you look at our garden center ... about 75 percent of what you see here was actually started and grown by our participants and by our staff that works with the participants."

Tina Habus is one of the employees.

"I love it here," said Habus. "It makes everything pretty to see everything grow."

Habus has dyslexia and cannot read.

"I just water the pants, I pick dead flowers off, I transplant them, I take some hanging baskets," Habus said.

Darrel Wood is the gift shop manager.

"It's a great place to work, great group of people to work with," Wood said. "I do most of the buying, there's another women who helps me. She and I go to the gift shows, look through the catalogs, decide what makes sense for us to see what will work together, what we think our clients will like."

They also sell products made by other disabled organizations.

"It's just the most peaceful place, and it's alive, and it smells good, and it's peaceful, and it's quiet. But then, when all the participants come in, they just get so excited because they get to see the plants that they grew," said Leach. "It gives them such satisfaction because they did it. Nobody did it for them."

If you are working on your garden, stop by Seguin Gardens and Gifts Center. The address is 5621 W. 31st Street in Cicero. The phone number (708) 222-2772.

The web site is:

All sales from items goes to support the organization.

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