For the past 5 years, JCFS TDS’ vocational program has had the pleasure of partnering with a local candy store, Mini Man Monkey Brains. Founded by Gloria and Jim Iverson, Mini Man Monkey Brains is a place close to their hearts. The candy shop provides a place for young adults on the Autism spectrum (and who have varying abilities) a place to practice and implement work expectations.
Gloria and Jim’s son, Nick, was diagnosed with Autism when he was very little; he spent two years at JCFS. Jim shared this experience was so helpful towards supporting Nick in the areas he needed most. “JCFS means so much to us,” Jim explained. “JCFS provided the school program and advocacy services that helped Nick and us go on to receive the right care and support for Nick’s abilities.”
Gloria, originally a teacher, went on to earn her Master’s in Special Education and saw both on a personal and professional level the lack of opportunity to enter the work force for people on the Autism Spectrum. Jim shared that Gloria came up with the idea to have a candy store be a place where their son would work, in addition to a place for others who are looking for meaningful opportunities. The name, Mini Man Monkey Brains came from Nick himself; it’s a phrase he would often say, and one that was inspired by the Indiana Jones movies.
Upon entering, one is immediately brought back to their childhood where candy is $0.25 a piece and where the options are limitless. Nick is up front working the register and providing customer service (in addition to Jim who oversees the day-to-day). Mini Man Monkey Brains hosts multiple student/young adult groups with varied abilities in a work atmosphere. The TDS students follow a regular routine of ensuring the space is clean and ready for customers, and that all bins are stocked with candy. TDS students greatly enjoy the opportunity to work here mainly because of its fun atmosphere, welcoming staff and, of course, ability to score some yummy candy purchases.
Mini Man Monkey Brains is just one of the few partners of the Vocational Program at JCFS TDS. Contact Carrie Patterson, Work Development and Employment Specialist at TDS for more information about partnering with the JCFS TDS Vocational Program. See more yummy photos of the wide array of candy you can find at Mini Man Monkey Brains on our Facebook page.
Pictured in the photo above (L to R): Jim Iverson, TDS student Ania, Nick Iverson and TDS Teacher's Aide Kelvin Warner.