INDIANAPOLIS — Tapping into an underserved workforce in order to fill jobs is the goal at Howdy Homemade Ice Cream.
“The cold brew and cookies is our best seller; everyone loves the cold brew and cookies,” Katerina Austrom, one of the employees with disabilities, said.
Katerina, whose friends call her Kat, was born with fetal alcohol syndrome. That has an effect on her cognitive abilities.
"All my older siblings, you know, learned how to drive and stuff,” Austrom said. “I mean I tried to but it didn't work out as well and then another problem is like math.”
Employees like Austrom are who Howdy Homemade Ice Cream are looking for. Their goal is to hire as many people with disabilities as possible. Co-owner James Officer says that part of the workforce is underserved.
"This population doesn't just want to just be served, but also wants to serve,” Officer said. “So the more opportunities, real opportunities that are provided for them to provide their skills, their talent and their experience to the community, the better the community is."
Howdy Homemade Ice Cream was created in 2015 in Texas. They now they have 5 stores, with their first Midwest location in downtown Indianapolis next to Needler's Fresh Market. Getting rid of the stigma surrounding disabilities is something that hits the owner close to home.
"I was classified as having a disability because of my vision," Officer said.
He hopes creating these opportunities will get rid of the invisibility those with disabilities often face.
"This is a workforce that has been ignored,” Officer said. “As organizations like Howdy Homemade Ice Cream start to shine a light on the skills, ability and impact that individuals with disabilities can have, I see that spreading to other industries, other companies, cities, states and across the country."
As for workers like Austrom, she is looking forward to continuing to make people smile.
"I love people' I love to be around people,” Kat said. “I just want to make people's day.”
For more information about Howdy Homemade Ice Cream click here.