Goodness Report, News

Virginia ice cream shop proudly employs people with disabilities

July 20, 2022

By Cortney Moore, Fox News

According to the CDC, 61 million adults in the United States (1 in 4) live with a disability, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the unemployment rate for this quarter of the population was around 10.1% in 2021. One ice cream parlor in Virginia is serving up opportunities to change that.

Jake’s Ice Cream in the city of Falls Church, Virginia has employed more than 20 adults with special needs.

“The inspiration was my nephew Jake, who this place is named after,” owner Robin Rinearson.

“Jake is 29 years old. He’s got cerebral palsy. He had a job for eight years working for a company with 17 other young adults with disabilities. And when COVID hit, that company basically remained open, but they sent all the 18 people with special needs home,” Rinearson said.

“They made no accommodations.”

Rinearson said she was irritated at seeing her nephew remain unemployed for a year-and-a-half.

With the COVID-19 pandemic still around, Rinearson worried that conditions wouldn’t improve fast enough for Jake to return to work with his former employer.

“I had a long chat with my brother, and I said, ‘Look, you and I have been very fortunate in our lives,'” Rinearson recalled.

“‘We need to come up with a business for Jake and other people like him that nobody can take away from them,'” she also said.

The family came across the ice cream parlor — and moved forward with opening one in Jake’s honor.

It wound up being in Falls Church, Virginia, about 12 miles from Washington, D.C.

Rinearson retired from her optometry practice in Bailey’s Crossroads and opened Jake’s Ice Cream in August 2021.

“It’s been a ton of fun,” Rinearson told “Fox & Friends Weekend.” “The first 11 people that I hired were actually out of my patient base.”

Tim Walker and Sara Canterbury are two of the two dozen employees Rinearson has at Jake’s Ice Cream, and they joined her during the TV segment.