“Freshman year at my high school, I started taking a baking class and I really enjoyed it,” said 26-year-old Collette Divitto, describing the beginnings of her passion for baking.
“High school was not easy for me. I struggled a lot with friends. I got left out because of my disability.
“I went down to college—to the ClemsonLIFE program. Being in college was fun. I had really good friends down there, and had amazing experiences. My friends and I did a lot of activities.
“Probably the biggest thing I learned in college was independence . . . because look at me now. I live on my own—in my own apartment with a roommate—that makes me really happy. . . . My favorite things to do in my spare time are cooking, baking, playing games into the night, and doing fun activities.”
After college, Collette moved to Boston with her mom, where they thought there would be more job opportunities for Collette. But instead, she found people weren’t hiring.
“I want to give you all of my feelings—I was heartbroken. I would cry. I was really frustrated, sad, mad, angry—I had all of those emotions. Trying to find a paying job is a difficult thing a lot of times for all of us who have a disability.”
Baking soon went from her “fun hobby” to a job when she and her mom and sister worked together to start Collettey’s Cookies, and to sell Collette’s signature Chocolate Chip Cinnamon cookie.
“My mom and Liz have always been here for me, and we are such an amazing team. My favorite thing about my cookie company—is thinking about hiring more people with disabilities!"
Any advice for others with disabilities? “I would probably say for them to not give up on their dreams, and to focus on their abilities, not their disabilities.”
Supporting the employment of people with disabilities has never been tastier! To order Collette’s Chocolate Chip Cinnamon cookies: http://www.colletteys.com/home.html