“We are doing this out of love and although many agencies have great intentions, you cannot legislate love. We are here to offer the best that we can to all we serve because we love them.”
–Shari Hunter

We often hear about a mother’s love—so powerful, infinite, unconditional. When you meet Shari Hunter, you not only see it in her eyes and hear it in her voice, when you visit Two & Company, you get to experience the incredible life-changing outcomes that her love is cultivating every day.

That experience begins with the Café at Two & Company. The space is warm and inviting. You see a hand-chalked menu board. You hear the familiar sounds of expresso machines and a staff busy taking care of customers. What you may not notice is that this bustling café also serves as training opportunity for people of every ability. One that focuses less on limitations and more on possibilities. Which is exactly what Shari aims to provide.

Shari’s efforts have grown to include the Café, Shops, Services and The Two Foundation, which together are collectively known as Two & Company. Her vision for this ever-expanding collection of services can be summarized in three simple, hopeful, empowering words. Life without labels.

“We are not a special place for special people. I think we are very different because we start at a different place than most agencies or service providers. We start with inclusion, rather than segregation, and build in the supports needed for each individual’s success. Every person is here for a reason, and we exist to help them find their purpose. Our philosophy is inclusion through and through. We believe to our core that we are all people who belong together, and we are all better for it.”

With Shari and her three children at the helm, Two & Company continues working to alter traditional mindsets and break down stigmas and stereotypes in the workplace and in the communities beyond.

“One person, family, school, business and community at a time, we can change the future for those we love and serve. That is our ultimate goal and dream.” With the love of an incredible family and the support of a willing community there’s no limit to what Two & Company can accomplish. Shari agrees, “We’ve set our sights on achieving a beautiful, inclusive future. We’re determined to get there. And we know we can do it better together.”

“It is such a privilege to be able to serve, work with, 
and connect all of the different people involved in this 
process. I get to see first-hand the life-changing impact 
on the individual and families, the culture changing impact 
within companies, and in our community. It proves that 
we all do life better together.” – Christian Hunter, VP Operations

The Two & Company team has collected story after story about the successes, connections and friendships that have blossomed thanks to participation in the camps and programs they offer.

Recently, a mom of a camper shared her appreciation for the lasting friendships her daughter made through her Job Readiness camp. Before attending, her daughter had a hard time making friends. Afterward, she was invited to her first birthday party as well as her first movie night with friends. Hearing from former students and their parents about the successes they are experiencing warms Shari’s heart. “Nothing makes us happier than to hear our graduates or campers are experiencing relationships that are enriching their lives in so many ways.”

Beyond personal growth opportunities, the team can share many stories of their graduates finding professional success. BJ, for example, who was struggling to find opportunities and began to fall into negative habits as a result. Once he began training at the Café, BJ immediately felt a sense of belonging and worked hard to learn and complete every responsibility. Every day he continued proving to the staff and to himself just how capable of an employee he could be. Today, BJ works at a large hotel chain and has shared many exceptional reports. Adds Shari, “The pride on his face and his newfound purpose is all we need to keep us moving forward.”

The effects of the programs and interactions at Two & Company are impactful in so many ways. From first friendships, to meaningful and fulfilling careers opportunities to the regulars who swear by the delicious lattes and infamous tuna melts, grilled cheese and BLT sandwiches, the company you’ll find here is heart-warming. It’s also beyond compare.

Each quarter former graduates are invited back to the Café simply to socialize and catch up with friends, families and the Two & Company team. Derek enjoys hearing what’s going on in their new jobs and in their personal lives. “They came here as job-seekers, then, coworkers,” says Derek, “but they leave as friends.”

 

“Everyday is a joy and a gift.”
-Derek Hunter

Derek Hunter

“Welcome to the Two. Welcome to the family.”

 

That’s the way Derek Hunter greets new jobseekers and their families. His message comes straight from the heart, and it’s delivered with a contagiously warm and enthusiastic smile.

From the moment you hear Derek speak about the Café and all things Two, you know that it’s a special place. It would have to be – considering it was inspired by such an incredible person.

When Derek was born with Down syndrome, his mom, Shari, wanted to make sure that diagnosis didn’t limit his life choices. The Café, Shops, Foundation, and Services that make up Two & Company is proof that it didn’t. Together, Derek and his family created their own path. Sharing that journey and creating opportunities for others was a natural next step.

Deciding on a name, which was “a really big memory” for Derek, and he can readily quote the Bible verse that inspired it. ‘Two are better than one, for if either of them falls, one can help the other up.’ -Ecclesiastes 4:9-10. His drawing even became the logo and ever since, he has a hand in every aspect of the Two, as he calls it.

In addition to working with his family every day, which he loves, he enjoys his time with the job seekers, “coaching them along and seeing them succeeding – and I get a chance to learn from them too.”

“You wake up each day knowing that these guys will put a huge smile on your face,” Derek says, and he knows exactly how to do the same for the job-seekers.

“How’s mom and dad? How was your weekend?” he asks, because making “guys and ladies” feel welcome and feel loved is part of his job. He lets them know that even if they are nervous, “they are not alone. We can go through it together.”

“It’s our job to work alongside them to help them learn and grow. I love to see their smiling faces. To see them blossoming. So, they can be who they want to be and who God wants them to be.”

When he’s not teaching, Derek chats about his wife, Lauren, about being a proud uncle and about his favorite Café menu choices – the noodle bowl, the BLTs and, of course, the breakfast grilled cheese. When the topic of sampling bakery items came up, he laughed and said he’s “well-rounded” when it comes to his cookie preferences.

Derek looks forward to the chance for Two & Company to grow and reach out to more people in the community. He even has a bit of advice for those who’ve yet to visit or learn about what the Two has to offer. “Come in! They will love the experience. We would love it too.”

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It takes a village

Two & Company, which encompasses the café, shops, job services and the foundation, has outgrown the space we've been leasing since 2015. We purchased a building to $1.6 million dollars with 6,800 square feet that will have space for training, café, shops, and business offices. The costs for the building and renovations are estimated to be $4 million dollars. With your generous donations we have raised $2.3 million dollars!

We want to provide the best of the best in a state of the art facility in the center of Chargin Falls. We want to serve as the premier model for integration of individuals with exceptionalities and provide our community with an amazing dining and shopping experience.

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