Devoted dads design job opportunities for adults with special needs

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Sunday, June 19, 2022
Devoted dads design job opportunities for adults with special needs
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Michael and Brian were inspired by their sons to create "ABLE Force," a network of businesses for young adults with special needs in Bucks County.

RICHBORO, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- "Every day, Shawn wakes up with such a positive attitude," said Michael Fitzgerald. "You know, you look three years ago, Shawn was just struggling how to clean the cars. Now, he can do every part of the business that we have."

Michael's son, Shawn, was born 24 years ago. The night he was supposed to come home, their house caught fire. However, Shawn was kept at the hospital for some extra time and miraculously missed the blaze.

Shawn grew up to be an active community member despite having an intellectual and developmental delay. But around the time he turned 21, his dad noticed the opportunities started to dwindle.

Michael teamed up with his business partner, Brian Damiani, and started "ABLE Force" to create opportunities for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities like their sons.

"You know, it's just taking the advantage of the skill sets of our adults and training them and seeing the potential and opportunity because they want to be part of the community, right," said Michael. "They want to be able to do a job like everybody else."

ABLE Force is the umbrella company that houses Classic Rock Auto Detail, Able Fulfillment, SHREDable, and Requip'd Equipment Rescue. The not-for-profit employs roughly 15-20 young adults and hopes to reach 50 over the next several years.

"They are able. They are capable of doing a lot more than we give them credit for," said Brian. "And hopefully, we can show through our success here and other people can learn from that and then maybe take a chance to start a business as well."

And despite how much of an educational opportunity it's become for adults like Shawn, these devoted dads are discovering teaching moments themselves.

"Everyday, I'm just learning so much more from Shawn," said Michael. "About how to be a better person and be a better dad."

To learn more about ABLE Force, visit their website.

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