He's 23, Blind, Nonverbal. And He Started His Own Successful Business.
Patrick Lewis has an affinity for specialty foods and beverages. The 23-year-old also has cerebral palsy, is unable to verbally communicate and is completely blind, but that hasn’t stopped him from doing something that would be extraordinary for any 23-year-old — he has his own business doing something he loves.
Lewis, who lives in Stowe, Vermont, with his family, is the creator behind “Purely Patrick,” a small local business that creates and sells specialty food and drink items “with a splash of country flare and a taste of Vermont.” He creates mixes for soups, cookies, dog and bird treats, hot cocoa, chai tea and many other goodies. Using a switch-activated device specifically designed for pouring ingredients, he layers them into decorative bags and jars.
“My hands ‘see’ what my eyes cannot,” Lewis writes on his website.
Lewis’s mom, Mary Anne Lewis, said her concern for her son’s long-term happiness prompted her to help him find a fulfilling job. “‘What was Patrick going to do when he grew up?’ was always a very sad thought for me,” she told The Mighty in an email. “So I just kept thinking — what are Patrick’s strengths and what does he enjoy, and how can we turn that into a business?”
Patrick Lewis already knew how to use a pouring device, and he enjoys working with his hands. “Purely Patrick” was born when he started working with a teacher three mornings a week. When he was 19, his teacher referred him to an employment specialist at Lamoille County Mental Health Services, who helped him receive funding to work with a job coach 25 hours a week.
Four years later, Lewis’s business is still going strong. He has two job coaches who, along with his family members, help him select and purchase weekly ingredients from grocery and hardware stores. They work together to determine which ingredients he needs for which recipes and to measure the correct amounts for each. Together, they sell his products at local farmers markets, craft fairs and other events.
“Purely Patrick” generates enough income for Lewis to maintain his business and have some spending money on the side. But that’s not the most important part.
“Patrick’s job provides him with a feeling of self-worth and dignity, which is priceless,” Mary Anne Lewis told The Mighty. “With creativity and optimism, we have been able to build a successful working life for Patrick in spite of his multiple disabilities.”
Watch The Patrick Lewis Story:
Video music by Dalton.
For more information about “Purely Patrick” and to see a complete list of products for sale, head here.
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