Dutton Farm began as one family’s way to celebrate and support someone special.
Formalized in 2010 by Jim and Michele Smither and their daughter, Jenny Brown, Dutton Farm was created in honor of Jenny’s older sister Rebecca Smither. Rebecca has Down Syndrome, and the family was seeking to create a comprehensive program to serve this community. They wanted to provide educational and employment opportunities to those with special needs.
“My older sister has the gift of Down Syndrome,” said Jenny Brown, COO of Dutton Farm. “So, she didn’t have the same opportunities and acceptance as I did as an adult. That’s really what inspired me to start this organization.“
The farm works with school districts, private employers, state agencies and other community resources to offer the highest quality and most individualistic plan to assist these individuals in achieving their dreams.
“Most people don’t realize that individuals with disabilities have such an appreciation to be able to work and contribute; it’s really incredible being able to provide them with these opportunities,” Brown continued.
Today, Dutton Farm serves around 200 disabled persons monthly by providing individualized life skills training, recreational activities, socialization, on-site employment opportunities, community integration and advocacy. The “farmers” in their program build relationships with staff members in order to identify their skill sets. Next is job training, where they learn things like staying on task, building relationships with others, and learning skills in multiple vocational areas. The end goal is for these individuals to find competitive integrated jobs within the communities where they live. Most participants go on to find employment in the food service, retail or custodial science industries.
Nominated by Chick-fil-A Operator Blake Dennard, Dutton Farm is the Midwest regional winner for the 2019 True Inspiration Awards. They will receive a $75,000 grant to continue their vocational and life skills training forindividuals ages 10 and up with a mental, physical or emotional impairment in the Detroit metropolitan area.
The Chick-fil-A Foundation is proud to support this remarkable organization.
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