GARDNER, Kan. — “The popular ones are cherry and peach and then the strawberry rhubarb,” Gardner, Kansas native Jennifer Smith said.
The people of Gardner have a sweet tooth for Jennifer Smith’s cobblers.
But these cobblers she makes are for a specific cause. They’re for the Corinne and Cameron, “Yes I Can” scholarship fund.
“We just thought, you know this is an opportunity for us to help the disability community and give these kids an opportunity to go onto either post-secondary, vocational rehab, for job skills training,” Smith said. “Just something that gives them empowerment to know that 'hey, I can do this.'”
The idea spurred from her own children, Corinne and Cameron, who both have autism.
“Corinne wanted to go to college, she really wanted to succeed, but there weren't scholarships specifically for individuals with developmental disabilities,” Smith said.
Smith and her mother, Betty decided to start the scholarship fund in 2013, raising funds at the Johnson County Parade.
“People would come and eat and watch the parade and not really knowing what they were doing, providing the funds for such a wonderful opportunity for our kids,” Smith said.
Now, Corinne is in her last week of college. Her brother, Cameron, is an employee at Walgreens.
Corinne says she couldn't be more proud of this cause and her mom.
“She means everything to me, with love,” Corinne Smith said.
The scholarship is for students who attend Gardner Edgerton.
“The process is they fill out an application, just like any scholarship. But our scholarship is a little different where it gets very creative and very unique,” Smith said. “Individuals sometimes have a hard time communicating, so instead of writing the perfect sentences, they can either video themselves, or have someone assist them with creating what they like, what they want to do.”
Katie Bailey was one of those recipients.
“She was so excited to get to run up on the stage,” Katie’s mother, Elaine Bailey said.
Katie Bailey is interested in becoming a songwriter and said she was happy to receive the scholarship.
It’s a comfort food that has been not only a tasty dessert but a set up for success.
“We can make money for all the kids with autism and have them live a better life,” Corinne Smith said.
“Don't limit our individuals because they can do so much more than we can anticipate,” Jennifer Smith said.
Smith will be having a fundraising event, along with resources for families with disabilities.
It will be held at the Gardner Senior Citizen Community Center on Saturday, Nov. 18 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.