‘Freedom Factory’ set for grand opening on Black Friday

Local4 News at 10
Published: Nov. 22, 2022 at 6:47 PM CST
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - An after-school program for disabled teens is providing the kids much more recently.

Our Place After School Care is not only giving teens with disabilities a place to go after school, but they’re soon going to be able to provide them a paycheck. The nonpprofit is holding a grand opening Friday for its new store named ‘Freedom Factory.’

It will sell a variety of arts and crafts, and for some of the items up for sale - they’re made by the teens themselves. Adeline Johnson, the executive director for Our Place After School Care, tells us this has been a long time coming for the community.

”Four years ago, this was just a dream that myself and a couple of other parents thought ‘we’ll just see how this goes,’ and to have our own space is fabulous,” Johnson said. “We’ve always wanted to be able to do that, and now we’ll serve that population.”

As for the teens who will see their crafts and pieces of art go on sale Friday, they’re certainly anxious.

“The kids can hardly stand the wait,” Johnson said. “They have been here helping to clean up and get ready for the project and to move, so they’re just beyond excited.”

And the pieces of art are quite impressive as well.

“A friend was with them when they made the tiles, and they wanted to keep making them,” said Dusty Haase, the store manager of Freedom Factory. “Of course they wanted to take them home, and I was the one with them with the paintings, and they thought that was very neat to pour the paint on and move the canvas.”

For Haase, this store hits home for her. Not only is she a former teacher who still has a passion for helping kids, but she’s seen it firsthand from outside the school setting as well for years.

”I have a granddaughter with special needs, and when she was in school there wasn’t any place for her to go, and she lived in Lincoln, so one of the parents had to stay home so they could run them to different appointments and be there after school because she couldn’t be by herself,” she said.

For both Johnson and Haase, they say it’s incredibly rewarding to them to see the smile on the teen’s faces. However, for them, they want to make sure the teen’s feel rewarded for their work as well.

”Our community needs to recognize that they are here,” Johnson said. “I am hoping this becomes a beautiful partnership between the state, our community and for these kids - that this gets repeated across Nebraska.”

The grand opening is Friday, Nov. 25 from 11:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. The store will also have hours on Saturday, Nov. 26 from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. The store is located at 1117 East South Street in Hastings.