For Peter Schuellein, the job is simple.
“We work together. We’re a team,” said the Heartstrings Goody Delivery salesman.
Heartstrings, a nonprofit in Overland Park, has been helping employ people with developmental disabilities since 2001.
With the help of his peers, Michaela Davis and Anna Bell, the trio has continued to serve full work days for years, visiting more than a hundred offices a week, selling office workers insurmountable goodies.
"They bring a lot of joy to our office. When they walk out everybody is smiling,” said Augie Huber, owner of A.L. Huber, an Overland Park contractor who sees the Goody Delivery team once a week.
Peter, Michaela and Anna are just part of nearly 50 people with developmental disabilities employed by Heartstrings.
"We wanted them to be as independent as they could be. And we wanted them to be productive citizens,” said Anne Hull, founder of Heartstrings. "We estimate they meet over 400 people a week."
Hull started Heartstrings in 2001 after her two adult sons, who are on the autism spectrum, were looking for work.
"We had no answers back in 2000 for the people who wanted to expand their lives and get employed. The only answer was get a job on your own and keep it on your own, which is difficult to do when you have a developmental disability,” said Hull. “So the work we provide is based in interactions with the general public."
Since then, the business has boomed. Aside from the Goody Delivery service, Heartstrings also employs people through a fine clothing and accessories store (Sacks On Sante Fe), a home accessories store (On My Own), a custom gift basket service, and through a booth at the Sentimental Journey Antique Mall called “On My Own Too.”
Hull said the business has been a win-win for everyone.
"We have people who come to us very shy and quiet, and they've changed into people who are gregarious and outgoing, and they're not afraid to shake hands and speak to people and tell you about their business,” said Hull.
Of course the excitement that comes with being called an employee may be the biggest win of all.
"And that means they're valuable people the minute they walk in the door because we’re gonna pay them,” said Hull.
Heartstrings is a day service only serving Johnson County people with developmental disabilities at this time. There is currently a wait list for the program. To be considered, you are encouraged to meet with a case manager through Johnson County Developmental Supports (JCDS) who can help you choose the best option.
Heartstrings businesses and shopping locations
Heartstrings Goody Delivery
Call 913.649.5700 to schedule a sales appointment at your office.
Sacks On Sante Fe
Fine Clothing and Accessories
7916 Sante Fe Drive in Overland Park
M-Sat 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
On My Own
Home Accessories Store
7086 W 105th St in Overland Park
M-Sat 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
On My Own Too
Sentimental Journey Antique Mall – Booth #13
907 Chestnut St in Olathe
M-Sat 10-6, Sun 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Heartstrings Custom Gift Baskets
7086 W 105th St. in Overland Park
M-Sat 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Josh Helmuth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org