Belmont group providing opportunities to those with intellectual disabilities

North Carolina

BELMONT, NC (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – Supporting local business means a little something extra to some workers in Belmont.

Holy Angels operates three different shops along Main Street that all employ those with intellectual disabilities.

For the past 25 years, Cherubs Café has been serving up their famous potato salad with a side of hospitality.

It’s thanks to lots of helping hands, like Maria.

“They call me the professional potato peeler,” she said.

It’s a title she doesn’t take lightly, but it’s not all she does to help the business.

Maria said, “I do potatoes, I take orders, I take the food to the customers.”

Maria is just one of dozens of staff members with intellectual disabilities at three different shops run by Holy Angels; an organization that provides care and innovative services for children and young adults.

“We are really about loving, living, and learning for the differently-abled,” said Holy Angels President and CEO, Regina Moody.

“People with disabilities do and are able to really make a difference,” she said.

Between Cherub’s Café, The Cotton Candy Factory, and Bliss Art Gallery, Holy Angels has their hands full, providing meaningful work to those who might otherwise have a hard time finding it.

Moody said, “When we started, they didn’t really have any work skills. Today I can tell you that their skills are amazing; they’ve developed them in each day and they’re learning more and more.”

Like most things, the pandemic shut down the shops for several months.

“We took every job opportunity that we could from the businesses and they were able to get their funding in-home, so all of our crew member stayed employees during those 8 months,” said Holy Angels Director of Business Enterprises, Erin Smith.

Smith said that they’ve since eased back into their semi-normal operations, with masks firmly in place for customers and all staff.

“Whenever they come into the business, it’s the understanding that we are serving the most vulnerable,” Smith said.

Maria said that taking the months-long break was hard on her.

“We couldn’t see each other, we couldn’t see our staff members, and people who we work with,” she said.

It made the return to work and the comeback even sweeter.

“I enjoy coming back to working with the people. It’s wonderful,” said Maria.

It’s an attitude that shines through in everything the Holy Angels crew does.

“I can tell you that whenever you come in and you’re having a bad day, you’re going to leave with a smile,” Smith said.

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