PREVIOUS LIFE: NYC business owner
CURRENT PROFESSION: Social entrepreneur, FORT LAUDERDALE
My son Andrew has autism. When he aged out of the public school system at 22 years old, I decided to change my career and create a busi-ness where he and others like him could find sustainable employment, have purpose and hopefully gain independence. I started Rising Tide Car Wash in 2012. I now have two car washes and employ over 80 per-sons in the spectrum. It was exhila-rating starting over at 51. Creating a social enterprise where 80 percent of the staff was in the spectrum
in full view of the consumer with intent of educating the public on the capabilities within the diversity was unknown territory to say the least, but with the help of my eldest son, Thomas, we made it happen in a big way. I have been an entrepreneur for most of my adult life and my mindset here was the same as it has always been: to remain disciplined, well organized, goal-oriented and most of all unafraid to take risks and make mistakes along the way while rising to the challenge of business.
THE HAPPY ENDING:
From a business perspective, the most rewarding aspect of what I am doing now is working with a group of people who are genuinely happy to come to work, who care about the business, take great pride in the product we deliver, and value the relationships they form at the company and our community as
a whole. On a personal level, the rewards are endless. Watching people like Andrew go from a quiet, marginalized and unsure young man to empowered, ready to try new things and take on new challenges, is one that I find most fulfilling. It is amazing what employment can do for somebody who was put on the fringe.