(DOWNTOWN EL PASO – Dec. 14, 2022) – The scrumptious ice cream scooped up at the new Howdy Homemade isn’t the only thing that makes the new downtown shop extra sweet.
It’s the franchise concept: “Harnessing hope and hard work to empower people with special needs one scoop at a time.”
The El Paso Community Foundation, which opened the first of at least two Howdy Homemade Ice Cream shops a few weeks ago, was drawn to the approach of providing jobs for teens and adults with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Among the employees at the El Paso location are six former El Paso ISD students known as heroes.
“The El Paso Community Foundation was very interested in wanting to do more for the community of El Paso – especially the community with intellectual and development disabilities,” said Adam Tirres, who is directing the shop for the foundation. “After age 22, there’s not a lot of opportunities for them. We were interested in not just the employment piece but the social aspect, too.”
The heroes begin their day making ice cream a few doors down from the shop located at 601 Oregon St. Shift managers or peer leaders guide them through the various aspects of their job duties everything from making the ice cream to scooping it for customers. Among the shift managers is Coronado High School senior Natalie Carranza who started working with her brother Steven Vasquez, a Howdy Homemade hero.
“I think it’s cool,” Carranza said. “I know how shy he gets around people and having him nearby makes me happy. He’s always been a hard worker and I can see that he really likes it.”
Steven can’t help but smile as he scoops up the wide variety of flavors. His favorite part of the job: making the ice cream.
“It’s a fun place to work,” he said.