Entrepreneur with Down syndrome closer to achieving her dream

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Collette Divitto is a young woman with a big dream.  After CBS Boston featured Collette’s cookie business, orders flooded Collettey’s Cookies from as far away as New York and California.  While Collette enjoys the attention and enjoys making her signature “The Amazing” cookie for her customers, she’s working with a much bigger goal in mind.

Collette has Down syndrome, a disability she refuses to acknowledge.  And when you watch Collette, she certainly doesn’t appear to have a disability!  Despite her tremendous work ethic and infectious energy and positivity, Collette could not find a job.  Sadly, this is not uncommon for young people with disabilities.  Employers are reluctant to hire them, and their options sometimes seem limited.

Undeterred, Collette started her own business doing something she loves: baking sweet treats.  Collette created her own recipe.  After giving cookies to many eager taste-testers (her family and friends), she settled on a recipe for “The Amazing” cookie.  Her ultimate goal for the business is to expand so that one day she can employ other people with disabilities.  According to the Collettey’s Cookies website, as many as 76% of people with disabilities are unemployed.

So far, she has made great progress toward her ultimate goal.  Collettey’s Cookies landed a spot on the shelves of the Golden Goose Market in Boston.  Owner Stephen DeAngelis says, “We just kind of fell in love with her.”  Collette seems to have that effect on a lot of people.  And her cookies never last long.  DeAngelis jokes that he has to “chase the employees away because they want to eat them!”

After Collette’s business was featured on the news, the station was flooded with requests for more information, cookies, and offers to invest in her business.  Collette’s Facebook page features updates of the ongoing publicity, and her mother set up a GoFundMe page for people interested in supporting the business.  Perhaps most importantly, people can place orders for Collette’s famous cookies from her website.

Comments on her Facebook page included one from an eager customer from Oregon who wrote, “You are an inspiration to so many people!”  Another commenter said she read Collette’s story in the newspaper in Belgium, and she can’t wait until Collette’s starts selling “The Amazing” cookie in Europe.

Collette’s story truly is an inspiring example of the fact that Down syndrome does not define a person.  At a time when the human rights of people with Down syndrome are disregarded, Collette’s dream is beautiful.  When employers refused to hire her, she made her own job.  When she saw the many people with disabilities who want employment, she made a plan to hire them.  We are inspired by Collette’s vision, and we wish her luck!

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