Wednesday, February 14, 2024

A Valentine for Zoe

As a former teacher of special needs preschoolers, I noticed this article right away:

The Dish: Why a mother built a bakery to help her autistic daughter, Matti Gelman, Baltimore Banner

This piece is about parent Jennifer Goldszmidt, co-owner of Zoe's Just Dezzerts in Federal Hill. But it’s really about Zoe. 

Jennifer unveiled Zoe’s Just Dezzerts at 828 S. Charles St. in November. The Federal Hill storefront, named in honor of the Z’s in Zoe’s name and her penchant for sweet treats, provided the now-22-year-old with gainful employment. The business has since hired six other neurodivergent workers and has become an “autism-friendly” haven for the community.

In particular, this line made me smile:

Singing is rampant. On occasion, Zoe will burst into an a capella rendition of “For the First Time in Forever” from Disney’s “Frozen.” Co-worker Kamani Bautista, who is also autistic, previously joined her for a duet, in some cases with music he has written.

I smiled because I used to teach music and movement to preschoolers in the HCPSS RECC program, and Zoe was one of my students. I remember how musical she was. I wasn’t surprised when I saw the news several years back that she was presenting a concert via Zoom.

The story of a bakery called Zoe’s Just Dezzerts gives us a glimpse into the world of parents with special needs children who are becoming adults. Programs to support these young people disappear. Yet many of these young adults will always need some level of support and/or daily care. 

That does not mean they don’t have gifts, skills, aspirations, and potential. It does mean that they need support and guidance. Zoe is fortunate to have parents with the financial means to create and hopefully sustain a workplace which is specifically built for neurodivergent workers. Most parents don’t have those kinds of resources. 

When I was growing up, people like Zoe were largely hidden. Today that is changing. Every time I see instances where neurodivergence is accepted and welcomed I feel such a sense of joy. I truly believe this makes our world a better place. 

Zoe's Just Dezzerts is located at 828 South Charles St, Baltimore, MD 21230. They are open Wednesday- Sunday from 11 am to 8 pm.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.