As Jobs Dwindle, Woman With Autism Creates Own Avenue For Success
Lisa Witte worked through the same job program for 15 years. But when funding dried up last year, the 29-year-old with autism turned a tough spot into an opportunity.
Witte built on her skills as a rag maker — which she learned to do at a Goodwill Industries job program — to develop her own business. Even though Witte can’t read or write and only speaks a few words, she’s able to churn out 1,000 pounds of rags a month.
The rags, which are made of old t-shirts and sweatshirts that Goodwill is unable to sell, are sold to companies for industrial use and equipment cleaning.
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The business known as Lisa’s Quality Rags got off the ground because of lots of cooperation. Witte’s parents came up with the idea and helped her set up the operation. Goodwill sold Witte some equipment at minimal cost and gave her their client list when they realized that their job program would be discontinued.
These days Witte works about 25 hours a week providing rags to 35 customers. And she continues to learn new skills. Witte is currently working on learning to divide rags into 5 pound batches.
“It’s amazing she can be a productive member of society,” Witte’s mom told The Grand Rapids (Michigan) Press.