Nonprofit refocuses on businesses
Cultivate has rebranded itself as Cultivate Ability and set its sights on helping more businesses create inclusive work environments.
The local nonprofit, whose mission is to foster inclusive workplaces for people with disabilities, is working on an expansion plan and hopes to bring in a program director to lead training programs.
“The heart of our work recognizes the unique abilities and contributions of every individual,” Executive Director Seadar Rose Davis said in a press release. “We feel that this new name better represents our mission and impact within our community.”
Cultivate was founded in 2016 from the social mission efforts of Vertical Harvest. It partnered with the three-story hydroponic greenhouse in downtown Jackson to create an “integrated, naturally supported workplace that includes 23 employees with a form of disability,” the release said.
For employers considering more inclusive practices, the release said, the barriers are education and training.
“We want to provide the tools to employers to create a thriving workplace culture,” Davis said. “The benefits of hiring people with disabilities extend far behind ‘doing good’ and ‘good for business.’”
You can learn about Cultivate Ability at CultivateAbility.org.
Pet Place Plus offers free food
Pet Place Plus began offering dog food for free to pet owners who are experiencing tough times as a result of the COVID-19 shutdowns.
“We know people have been hurt by the layoffs,” said Jessica Borneman, partner and general manager.
Staff have divided large bags of Vision-brand kibble into smaller bags. Vision is an in-house dog food made specifically for the store.
Pet Place Plus is located at 1645 Martin Lane. The bags of food will be left outside the store on the porch of the dog house. People can pick it up for themselves or for a pet-owning friend or relative they know needs it.
“We’d like to run it on the honor system because we like to think we can trust our community,” Borneman said.
Pet Place Plus has about 800 pounds set aside for the giveaway.
“We think there’s a need in the valley, but we don’t know how large,” Borneman said.
The hope, she said, is that if people can continue feeding their dogs they won’t be forced to find new homes for their pets or put them in a shelter. Pet Place Plus did a similar giveaway during the 2008 financial meltdown.
“We said, ‘It’s another crisis. Let’s see if we can do something to help,’” Borneman said.
For shoppers Pet Place Plus is offering curbside service only, with no in-store visits. The store number is 733-5355, but the business just added an e-commerce function to its website, PetPlacePlus.com.
“It’s hard to shop for toys and treats over the phone,” Borneman said.
From hats to masks
Crown & Brim’s Sarah Kjorstad didn’t feel good about promoting her custom hats while other people were losing their jobs as a result of the pandemic.
So she went dark on social media, she said, and switched from hats to masks.
“I’ve been making them madly,” she said.
Kjorstad’s are different from some of the others being put together by volunteers around the valley.
She found a pattern online that provides a contoured fit, she said. And she opted for ties over elastic.
“It gives you a more specific fit on your face,” she said.
The masks also have a pocket into which she inserts a piece of Halyard H600, a material used to wrap surgical instruments. That makes the masks more effective, she said.
Kjorstad has donated masks to clinics and physical therapy offices in Jackson and Sheridan. She has also had individuals request them, and she’s offered the masks to them for a donation.
Kjorstad is supervising her son’s remote classwork while schools are closed and is also preparing for the family’s move next week. But she’s trying to fit in a few hours a day of mask-making.
“I’m thinking of it as a job,” she said.
Iksplor shifts to masks
For the foreseeable future Iksplor is focusing its manufacturing capabilities on producing cotton masks, starting with 500 that it will donate to medical providers, first responders and community members most in need.
The homegrown children’s clothing company is also raising funds to cover the cost of producing 500 or more additional masks.
They are produced by the same factory that sews Iksplor’s merino wool children’s clothing: Clothier Design Source, a woman-owned apparel design company in Minnesota.
The cotton masks will be washable and reusable. They can be worn over higher-grade N95 masks to extend the lifespan or they can be worn alone.
“The masks will include a soft binding for behind-the-ear loops instead of elastic as doctors, nurses and other providers have reported pain, irritation and blisters from elastic after hours of wear,” Iksplor said.
“After hearing our manufacturer switched over from making clothes to making masks, co-founders Karissa Akin, Barb Tuthill and I, as well as content director Danielle Shapiro, decided to each contribute equally to begin the production of 500 masks,” said Kailey Gieck, who started Iksplor with her sister and mother in 2018.
“In addition to our 500-mask donation, we hope to raise enough to produce at least an additional 500 more,” she said. “Masks will be used here locally, around the state and beyond depending on the highest need.”
You can donate to the effort at Iksplor.com/pages/masks. The company is also selling masks there for $5 each and will ship to anywhere in the country.
— Jennifer Dorsey