Councilman Bob Yates spoke about Ramble on Pearl in a recent newsletter. Thank you for helping us spread the word! He writes,

Typically, I wouldn’t use this space to promote a commercial venture. But Boulder clothing store, Ramble on Pearl, is different. It is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, set up to help people in need. Opened in August 2014, Ramble on Pearl is a clothing store that provides employment training to adults with developmental or cognitive disabilities, including those with autism or Down syndrome.

Ramble founders Connie and Andy Minden confronted some difficult decisions as their daughter, Kendra, reached adulthood and was ready to live independently. Kendra has a cognitive disability and lacked the work experience that so many teenagers and college students gain with summer, evening, or weekend jobs in retail or in the service industry. At the age of 23, Kendra faced the classic chicken-or-egg dilemma of not being able to procure a job due to her lack of experience, and not being able to gain experience without that first job. Recognizing that many other adults with developmental or cognitive disabilities also struggle with this challenge, Connie and Andy determined to not only train their daughter, but to make that training scalable so that others could gain the experience and confidence necessary to earn independent employment. Without any prior retail experience, two years ago the Mindens opened Ramble at 1638 Pearl Street, with their daughter, Kendra, as one of their first employees.

Ramble’s premise is simple. First, to ensure economic sustainability, they use their nonprofit status to gain discounts—sometimes even outright gifts—from high-end clothing designers who support their mission. As a result, Ramble procures brand new men’s and women’s fashions from local brands like Krimson Klover and Walleroo, and national brands such as Toad & Co and Bench, at significant savings to its customers, making the store competitive with its downtown neighbors while also offering the community the opportunity to shop with a purpose.

However, the Mindens’ primary objective is not affordability, but to use Ramble as a place to train adults with developmental or cognitive disabilities essential employment skills. Ramble’s trainee employees, called “apprentices,” are paid to manage the store’s inventory, fill the racks, help customers select fashions, and ring up sales. Each employee with a disability is paired with a job coach who has experience in the retail world. After a few months of training, apprentices can typically perform any job that their coach can, often with enthusiasm and joy. Once that proficiency is attained, Ramble helps its graduate apprentices secure independent jobs outside the store. In the two years since Connie and Andy opened Ramble, they have successfully place 11 adults with disabilities—including their daughter Kendra—in jobs throughout the Boulder area. Once hired in their new jobs, Ramble provides graduates ongoing coaching until they are completely independent.

One of Ramble’s most recent graduates is Penny. After her training at Ramble, Penny landed a job in October with Clutter Consignment in the Steelyards. There, Penny works five days a week tagging and merchandising Clutter’s products and staffing the cash register. Says Clutter’s owner, Patty Ross, “I believe that the more we can help people, the better off we will be. And when you understand that people are people first and their disabilities come second, then maybe barriers will be broken down and life for all will be good.”

While Penny has worked at Clutter for only a short time, Patty says that she is doing “fantastic.” Says Patty, “She’s fitting in very well, catches on quickly, and she is always smiling. She’s a great addition to my wonderful staff.” Penny is equally happy with Clutter, telling me when I visited her at the shop, “I love this job. The people here have taken me under their wing and taught me so much. And it’s so fun being around customers and helping them pick out what they need. I feel special here.” At RambleOnPearl.com you can read about other recent Ramble graduates, including Alexa, who now works at the Humane Society, Sean, who works at King Soopers, and the Mindens’ daughter, Kendra, who is a proud employee of Bed, Bath & Beyond. In addition to the 11 graduates who have been placed in independent jobs, the Mindens are currently training three more people at Ramble, and there is a wait-list of others who seek this opportunity.

Three-quarters of Colorado adults with cognitive disabilities are unemployed. And often those who do have work are isolated in “enclave” jobs, out of the public eye and paid less than minimum wage under an exemption permitted by state law. But, Connie and Andy Minden are making a difference here in Boulder, unlocking the talent often hidden in people with developmental disabilities, helping them live independent lives, filled with confidence and pride.

As you embark on your holiday gift shopping and plan your year-end support of worthy causes, stop by Ramble on Pearl, where you can do both.

Bob Yates’ original post can be found here.


Note from the Apprentice Program Manager:

14364663_1745722522360529_6030291787211729137_nIn the spirit of the Thanksgiving season, the Apprentice Program at Ramble on Pearl wants to extend our sincerest gratitude to everyone that supports our program as we work to integrate our apprentices into independent, community employment. Our supporters come in many forms- as customers of Ramble on Pearl, monetary donors, employers of our graduates and supporters who share our story with their networks! We are proud to report that since our last newsletter in September, we now have 3 new graduates who have secured independent employment, which allows them to use their unique abilities in service to their employers. We also have several new apprentices who have joined our Apprenticeship Program and we look forward to watching them learn and grow and ultimately to find their own place of employment within the community.

Ramble wants to specifically thank King Soopers of Lafayette (Sean) and Clutter Consignment of Boulder (Penny) for being our newest community employers and the Longmont Humane Society for employing yet another of our graduates (Alexa).  Not only will they be reaping the rewards of dedicated new employees, but they are providing an opportunity for our graduates to be visible and shine in the community! The success of the Apprenticeship Program is dependent on employers who are willing to see the unique assets and skills that our apprentices possess and to believe in their potential! King Soopers of Lafayette, Clutter Consignment and the Longmont Humane Society embody the employment environments Ramble on Pearl seeks out for our graduates. Thank you!

Introducing our Job Coaches

Ramble on Pearl is grateful for the hard work and dedication of our job coaches, who provide one-on-one support for our apprentices during in-store training and our graduates transitioning to community employment. Our job coaches work as advocates for our graduates, liaisons between Ramble and the community employer, and work diligently to ensure success for all parties involved. 

Our field job coaches are Monica Egger and Brent Nicholas. In addition to helping our graduates plant roots in the community both Brent and Monica have chosen to pursue graduate degrees in helping professions. Brent and Monica are both exceptional at developing strong rapport with both supervisors and coworkers (or “natural supports”) that will allow our graduates to continue to be successful after the individual has achieved autonomy and independence.  Thank you Monica and Brent! Your on-going support makes independent community employment so much more achievable for our graduates!

We would also like to extend a warm welcome to our new in-store job coach, Megan McKean. Megan joined us at the beginning of November and her addition to our team allows us to expand our Apprenticeship Program at Ramble on Pearl. She will be working one-on-one with Apprentices in the store to ensure they are developing all of the skills and knowledge necessary to transition to independent employment. Megan has extensive experience working with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities through the Out & About program with Imagine! and the Expand program with Boulder Parks and Recreation. We are blessed to have her join our team, and will be capitalizing on all of her experience and strengths to continue to grow the Apprenticeship Program.

With the recent expansion of our job coaching staff, we are excited about the opportunity to serve a larger population with employment training and placement services of the highest quality!

Thank you to everyone who participates in making the vision of our program a reality in the lives of our deserving Apprentices!

-Kristen Stejskal, Apprentice Program Manager.


14202776_1737118103220971_8767342318293253368_nPenny is Ramble’s newest Apprentice Program graduate and community employee. Penny began working at Clutter Consignment in October 2016 and has been a joyful presence to coworkers and customers alike. Penny loves customer assistance and goes above and beyond to deliver exceptional service to all of Clutter’s visitors! Penny loves her close-knit group of coworkers and her supervisor, Patti, who have all been incredibly supportive of her from her first day. Penny operates the cash register and is in charge of checking out Clutter’s many customers, especially during busy hours of operation. Penny also assists her coworkers in tagging and merchandising new items to make the store visually appealing and interesting. Penny works five days a week and her coworkers have expressed how much her jubilant laughter makes Clutter an even brighter place to shop. Clutter Consignment, we are grateful for you!

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13095996_1686957344903714_4994176112590124938_nAlexa was a wonderful addition to the Ramble Apprentice team in April 2016. She was  inquisitive and always asked questions that other people would never think to ask.  Alexa is dependable, timely and has worked extremely hard to become thorough in all of the jobs that she does.  During her time at Ramble, Alexa enjoyed steaming and beautifying the store to make sure that everything looks as inviting as possible for our customers.

Alexa loves animals and has her own dog walking business.  She also owns two cats and has volunteered at multiple doggy daycares and horse ranches.  Alexa also loves children and has worked with them at a daycare and day camp.  Alexa is compassionate and loving towards every animal and person that she meets!

In September 2106 Alexa graduated from the Apprenticeship Program and obtained employment at the Longmont Humane Society. Alexa is responsible for providing daily care for the adoptable cats during her 2-3 shifts per week, providing them with food and water and keeping their kennels clean and with fresh litter. Alexa is also responsible for providing the specialized care that some of the cats need. Alexa has become so efficient in discharging her initial job responsibilities that she has been given added responsibilities. She also provides much needed socialization for the cats to prevent stress and loneliness and prepare them for integration into a forever home! Alexa’s supervisor, Maddy, has told her support staff at Ramble that Alexa is a valued team member at LHS and they appreciate all of her hard work.

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seanSean started at Ramble in April 2016 and proved himself to be an exceptionally hard worker. Sean always shows up with a great attitude and is always enthusiastic about whatever the day may hold. During his time at Ramble, Sean was our go-to man for anything inventory related, including reconciling purchase orders, stickering and tagging new items and preparing them for placement on the sales floor.

Sean has a plethora of hobbies that keep him busy outside of work. He is a music and movie buff and always has a new recommendation for his coworkers to check out. Sean also loves video games and comics.  In fact, for the last several years, Sean and his mom have volunteered at Denver’s Comic Con!

In August 2016, Sean graduated from the Apprenticeship Program and has since been working at King15107440_1772800619652719_9033416629698993501_n Soopers in Lafayette 5 days a week! Sean is working as a Courtesy Clerk and is becoming an expert at bagging groceries and providing customer service. Sean always strives to do his best everyday and wants to make King Soopers proud! Sean means business about customer assistance and always makes it his first priority. Sean’s supervisors have time and time again stated that they appreciate what a hard worker he is. Sean’s supervisors can always trust him to do his best and embody all of the qualities that King Soopers wants their employees to exemplify. And it is not just coworkers that appreciate Sean’s hard work. Sean recently got a comment in a customer feedback survey that stated that he did a great job bagging! Sean has settled right into work at King Soopers and is an invaluable asset to their team.

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We are proud to report that the Apprentice Program at Ramble on Pearl has continued to grow and develop!  In the two years we have been operating, we have provided the opportunity for a wide range of individuals to discover and demonstrate their strengths as a pathway to securing productive independent employment in the community and becoming a valuable resource to their employers.  Below is a snapshot of our Apprentice Program:

Candidates Assessed: 18
Program Participants: 13
Current Participants: 4 (3 in active job search mode)
Graduates Employed: 8 (1 left job to go to university!)
Average Tenure in Jobs: 12 months
Longest Tenure in Job: 18 months!

Ramble’s goal is to thoroughly prepare our Apprentices for community employment while accessing the strengths and skills that make them uniquely prepared for the positions they enter.  One of Ramble’s fundamental beliefs is the value of self-determination or the process by which an individual dictates his or her own life trajectory. An individual’s time at Ramble provides an opportunity to develop skills, but is also a time for self-exploration and determining what career goals and ambitions each individual may have.  It is especially important that the individuals we serve at Ramble direct their own career development pathway and that Ramble just acts as a facilitator in that process.  We are eternally grateful for the opportunity to be a part of such self-discovery and helping these individuals secure community employment that fits their individual aspirations.


As followers of our apprenticeship program at our retail location, Ramble on Pearl, you are probably aware that we are owned and operated by our parent nonprofit, Boulder Treasures. Colorado Gives Day is coming up, and Boulder Treasures is excited to participate in the statewide day of giving. Can we count on you to help us reach our goal of raising $10,000 on December 4th?

WAIT, WHY DOES A STORE NEED DONATIONS?

At this stage of our growth as a social enterprise, only half of our current operating expenses are covered by gross proceeds from sales at Ramble on Pearl.  We still rely on your donations to keep the lights on and our apprenticeship program up and running.

WHAT IS COLORADO GIVES?

Colorado Gives Day is an annual statewide movement to celebrate and increase philanthropy in Colorado through online giving on December 4, 2018. It includes a $1 Million Incentive Fund provided by Community First Foundation and FirstBank. When you schedule a donation for Dec 4th, it will be partially matched by this fund.

HOW CAN I SUPPORT?

You can extend your support for Boulder Treasures by scheduling a donation on Colorado Gives Day. That’s right- you don’t even need to remember to do this later! Select “CO Gives Day” as your donation type and you’ll be all set for Dec 4.

WHAT IF I DON’T LIVE IN COLORADO?

Greetings, friends and supporters from afar! Have no fear, Colorado Gives is open to non-Coloradans as well. Click here to schedule a donation for your favorite Centennial State nonprofit.

WHAT WAS YOUR GOAL AGAIN?

So glad you asked! We’re hoping to raise $10,000 to support the vital work we are doing in creating pathways to employment for adults with developmental disabilities across Boulder and Broomfield Counties. Will you join us?

Schedule Your Donation

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Here’s a fun alternative for a ladies night out – support your favorite nonprofit boutique with a private party! We’ll open up the store just for you and your friends on the night of your choice and you can shop ’til you drop. Just bring yourselves- we’ll cover the rest!  And as always, your purchase supports our apprenticeship program.

The Perks

  • We’ll provide wine, snakcs and a private shopping experience for you and your friends in a warm and relaxing boutique atmosphere.
  • As the evening’s host, you will receive a gift certificate worth 5% of the evening’s sales to spend on your purchases!
  • Get exclusive access to Ramble stock: new shipments, clearance, and even out-of-season apparel perfect for a tropical vacation. Check off every item on your holiday shopping list!
  • If one of your guests signs up to host a shopping event while attending your party, you will both receive a $25 gift certificate
  • Bring your ideas about how we can customize this party for you. Want to do a fundraiser for another nonprofit? Talk with us for more details!

Ready to Schedule?
Call Ashley @ 303-442-2267


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Ava and job specialist Jocelyn with her first Ramble paycheck.

Ava moved to Boulder from New York where she participated in supported employment at Marshalls. She came to Ramble on Pearl with a dream of working independently, but had every intention of returning to her beloved Marshalls. She proudly showed us her name tag that she had kept and brought with her from New York.

 

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Her dream came true this year when she landed a job at Marshalls near her home in Longmont. Her job includes sorting newly arrived shipments of clothing in the processing department. We couldn’t be happier that she is fulfilling her dream and making new friends at work.
Ava’s supervisor reports, “Ava has been a highly valued member of our team since day one. She is a hard worker and always has a positive attitude! We can always count on her, and we are thankful for Boulder Treasures role in introducing her to our team.”
Congratulations, Ava!

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Kendra celebrates first Ramble paychecks with fellow apprentice Kate.

Kendra was one of our first apprentices, starting the apprenticeship program shortly after we opened in 2014. She has now been employed at REI since the spring of 2015 and is loving it there! Kendra is part of the stocking team that ensures all clothing goes on to the sales floor in an organized and timely fashion.

 

 

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Kendra hard at work at REI!

Kendra says her favorite task is organizing clothes on the sales floor, but her favorite thing about working at REI is spending time with her coworkers. REI- Boulder Sales Manager Josh recently shared,

Having had Kendra on our team over the past few months has been great. I mean it; it’s been a good thing. The single best thing about REI is the people. With over 100 employees here at the Boulder store, it’s bringing a new perspective to my staff. We’ve had a real opportunity to educate our staff about the differences that we all bring to the workplace and the opportunity to work side-by-side with people of differing abilities. I walked past the break room today and Kendra was chatting with one of her co-workers during their break. It was great. She’s part of the team.”

We’re so happy for Kendra!

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