Making an Inclusive Workplace in the Finger Lakes | #specialneeds | #kids


There’s a local business making hats and supporting programs for people with special needs. They’re constantly expanding and hiring more people of all abilities.

“Been here for five years, going on six years in July,” said Joanna Clark, an employee with Finger Lakes Textiles in Waterloo. “A lot of people call me JJ, Jo Jo, Joann.”


What You Need To Know

  • Finger Lakes Textiles sells a line of Arctic Gear hats, which just hit 10,000 sales
  • The nonprofit’s proceeds go to programs helping people with disabilities
  • FLT is an inclusive workplace, so anyone can find employment there


She’s always doing something a little different. Today she’s sewing hats.

“I always like learning new things,” said Clark. “Doing these, it’s not hard. It’s like easy, zip through. I’ve been sewing since middle school.”

Her favorite part about working for the nonprofit is the coworkers.

“Everybody here is like family to me,” said Clark.

She puts out 400 hats a day, but her goal is to raise it to 500. Finger Lakes Textiles is an inclusive workplace, especially for people with special needs.

“Whether you’re a grandma or someone straight out of school, there’s all sorts of different level jobs to do,” said Beth Egburtson, an employee with Finger Lakes Textiles.

Proceeds from their Arctic Gear hat line go directly to help people with special needs in the Finger Lakes region. They just recently hit 10,000 hats sold.

“Thing is, I like making friends. I like calling them family because after so many years they become family,” said Clark.

It’s a family that keeps growing as the company does. They’ve been sewing hats for the arctic gear line since 2018.



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