Westchester Business Employing People With Autism Hopes to Open New Location by Summer
Spectrum Designs, a Westchester-based nonprofit business that employs people on the autism spectrum to make and ship T-shirts and other apparel, is hoping to begin operating this summer in a renovated space on Tompkins Avenue in Pleasantville. The opening had been planned for Spring, but was delayed due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
“Westchester and Long Island are probably going to be some of the last allowed to reopen but I think once they’re ready to go, and if it’s safe to do so, we are going to be firing on all cylinders,” Patrick Bardsley, Spectrum Designs CEO and co-founder, said, according to a report by Lohud.com.
The organization has grown significantly since being launched as a pilot program in 2011 by Bardsley, Stella Spanakos, and Nicole Sugrue. At the time, the organization had only two teenagers and one piece of equipment in a barn behind Spanakos’s home in Long Island. The organization ended 2016 with $1.4 million in gross sales, and has partnered with Autism Speaks to print and ship 54,000 shirts to every U.S. state. Spectrum Designs is hoping to address the issue of unemployment for people on the autism spectrum, which remains a significant problem.
In January, roughly 200 people joined a hardhat tour of Spectrum’s building in Pleasantville, Westchester. Several local families have helped raise funds, including a $240,000 state grant for equipping and renovating the site.
“It will raise the bar in terms of opportunity offered to the special needs community,” she added, “and also offer a business model for Westchester County that is currently unavailable.”
Alyson Rozner, who is among Spectrum Designs founding families, noted the limited options available for adults with autism in Westchester outside of school. According to Lohud.com’s report, she said she was “blown away” by after visiting Spectrum’s website, and believes they will “raise the bar in terms of opportunity offered to the special needs community, and also offer a business model for Westchester County that is currently unavailable.”