Michael’s Garden: Handmade Hats Help Provide Adults with Functional Disabilities Employment
We like the treats, and Michael’s Garden has plenty to beguile the most bewitching witch! Choose from an assortment of colorfully decorated hats and matching broomsticks to complete the look, all made by participants of a very unique program of Michael’s Garden, a Division of ACCEL (Arizona Centers for Comprehensive Education and Life Skills).
Michael’s Garden was established to provide adults with functional disabilities and autism an opportunity to gain valuable employment skills through practical, “hands on” training in classes that reinforce these skills.
These unique witches’ hats are handmade by Michael’s Garden participants with a host of donated and recycled materials. The program “encourages and incorporates artistic expression as part of its special needs vocational training program,” says Gail Curran, Vice President of Organizational Development. Curran, whose experience includes work with the Michigan Special Olympics and other various charities, assists developmentally disabled as Director of Operations for H.O.P.E. Group, LLC, and president of the Arizona Autism Coalition. “Job skill development prepares clients for independence, by teaching a specific set of work skills, which may someday be transferred to community employment,” she adds.
Each day, Monday through Friday, participants come to Michael’s Garden to train and work with professional staff, to create products that are shipped in 48 states as well as Canada and the UK.
“The hats are fabulous,” says Scottsdale resident Karen Thovson, who explained she had a hard time choosing from a selection from the seasonal line “Bewitched” at The Christmas B in North Scottsdale. Settling on the vibrant “Sun Devils” hat, Thovson and several other area residents volunteered to model the hats at El Pedregal’s recent wine and jazz festival to help raise money for the charity. Other hats on exhibit that day included a “Cardinals” ensemble, as well as bat, spider and wizard collections.
Michael’s Garden Halloween hats and brooms are available every fall, and Michael’s Garden has a variety of “Haute’ Hats” for any season or occasion.
A complete catalogue is available for viewing on their website www.michaelsgarden.org. Michael’s Garden is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, proceeds raised from the sale of their unique millinery collection directly benefits their program.