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Group seeks job opportunities for developmentally challenged

A new local organization called J.O.E. aims to create job opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities. It’s doing this by selling joe at the library.
Free trade coffee and cookies are being sold at the main public library branch during certain hours in a test run that started in mid-November and will go to the end of January.
J.O.E. (which is short for Jobs. Opportunities. Enterprise.) would like to keep the booth going at the downtown library after the pilot project ends, though.
It’s also hoping to expand the coffee booth to other local library branches, and it’s seeking a service club grant to make this possible, said Karen Calzonetti, who works as a job coach for J.O.E.
The overall aim is to expand the J.O.E. enterprise and hopefully branch into other endeavours, perhaps such as doing “joe jobs” for businesses, she said Tuesday.
“Our intent fully is to help it grow and become sustainable,” Calzonetti said in an interview.
Currently, eight people ranging in age from 21 to 37 work for J.O.E., for which they are paid an honorarium, she said.
J.O.E. was created by a group of Guelph families and community partners concerned about a shortage of employment opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities, including autism.
“Our core premise is that everybody is employable . . . whether it’s one hour or 40 hours” a week, said Calzonetti. “That’s the belief that drives us.”
The J.O.E. booth at the library not only provides some work for the J.O.E. staff members, she said, but also helps them develop social skills and other skills useful in helping them find other jobs.
The current arrangement with Guelph Public Library is a win-win situation, she said, because some of the proceeds from the coffee sales are donated to a fund for a new main downtown library.
Planet Bean supplies the coffee, and the cookies come from a catering firm known as Bite on Cork Street. Both are providing the goods to J.O.E. at a “very low cost,” Calzonetti said.

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