Ahmad has been at Centering on Children for nearly a decade, and is a shining example of how people on the spectrum can make excellent employees...even when they're almost completely nonverbal. He occupies himself with assembling the bagged parts while here, and is an avid walker when not at work--walking an average of seven miles a day! Ahmad is also a big Michael Jackson fan, and he loves peanut butter and dribbling and passing basketballs.
Alice spends her time at work talking to customers on the phone and in written correspondence with them, as well as keeping on top of the bookkeeping. She's always pleased to learn a new, obscure fact about the ShoeboxTasks and the history of the company through the research she does to provide customers with answers. She loves putting her writing background to work in creating the COC newsletter and material for the website, and thoroughly enjoys the conviviality of the workplace. She spends her spare time taking her four-year-old on nature adventures, traveling and speaking other languages (namely French and Spanish) whenever possible, getting her hands dirty with art projects, and moonlighting as an ancestral healing facilitator.
B is the younger brother of A, who worked at Centering on Children before him, and has the nimble fingers that run the CNC machine that cuts our custom Shoebox lids every week. When he's not at work here, he works with a local produce delivery company and gets to visit a variety of farms and reap the benefits of fresh excess organic produce. B is also deep into music, particularly the hip-hop and experimental varieties, and can be found playing out here in Asheville regularly. Get a sample of his music here: www.soundcloud.com/manukaru.
Bucky has been at COC for almost 10 years, and has got to be its most enthusiastic and energetic employee. He puts his attention to detail to work in assembling the bagged parts of the Tasks, and when he's done at COC he goes down the hall to sew koozies at Oowee Products. In his free time, Bucky expresses his creativity through painting at Open Hearts Art Space here in Asheville, enjoys hiking and being in nature, and gets some much-needed rest in his recliner.
Grace is in charge of the daily operations of the shipping department at Centering on Children, and helps keep our employees on the spectrum (and their job coaches) on task. She has an uncanny knack for remembering numbers and doing calculations in her head, and can be counted on for knowing unlikely details about many, many random things. When not at COC, she busies herself being a mom, working for her cousin's moving business, and writing novels.
Jeffrey has been a task assembly master since 2015, and regularly lends his talent for photography and videography to various projects at COC. He also often frequents a wide variety of local arts, cultural and activist events to document them with his camera, and his work has been featured in the Mountain Xpress, Hola Carolina magazine, and at the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center. Jeffrey's other interests include films, Japanese culture and history, the natural world, hiking, acting, and poetry and screenwriting.
Linda acts very much as the creative force behind the scenes, and although she doesn't come in to the workshop regularly, she has woven her business savvy and inventiveness into many aspects of Centering on Children over the years. COC, along with many of her other life endeavors, has motivated her in three of her overarching goals and interests: finding a way to champion the underdog; remaining curious and idealistic; and earning a living while approaching it all as art. She is grateful to be a steward of the company while being of service to the greater community and showing appreciation for the individuals involved. Apart from helping to craft this business, she creates visual works of art--primarily oil paintings, and has shown her work at galleries across the United States.
Lorie has been a delightful addition to the COC crew. She specializes in assembling bagged parts (and especially likes putting the coins together for Task 20) and plays the very important role of maintaining quality control by ensuring that all of the bags we send out contain the correct pieces. When she's not at work, she fills her time with a variety of interests, including making polymer clay jewelry, raising and releasing caterpillars and butterflies (she's creating a butterfly garden with all of their favorite plants), fishing, watching videos about Sasquatch, and writing stories about benevolent gray aliens.
Priscilla is the social media queen responsible for keeping the ShoeboxTasks Facebook page alive and well, with links to relevant, insightful and engaging articles, news and features. She is an outspoken Autistic advocate, and is very active within the local and global disabilities community. She's a group facilitator for Triple P Stepping Stones and co-facilitates WMN, a social group for neurodivergent people who identify as womxn. She spends her free time with her daughter and husband, geeking out over Sci-Fi, music and internet rabbit holes.
Besides being the Big Boss (a title that he actually doesn't subscribe to, as he prefers a much more egalitarian work structure) and founder of Centering on Children, Ron serves as the eagle eye over the business, making sure all the parts are in place to keep our workshop running smoothly. Along with Linda, he provides the heart of the business, and acts by the mission of bettering the lives of all touched by ShoeboxTasks that is central to COC's founding principles. Otherwise, Ron enjoys gradually inching toward retirement with a nice array of hobbies, including hiking with Linda and their dog Sunny, gardening, keeping the birds happy and fed, art appreciation at a few select galleries, traveling, keeping up with what’s happening with his two sons and grandson, reading (at present all written by Japanese writer Murakami), listening to tree frogs' nightly songs, writing when spirit moves him, and getting together with friends over food and drink.
Sarah brings the sparkle to COC--both in her personality and her choice of accessories. She lends her charm to our customer service, and is in charge of order inputting and processing, and keeping tabs on the inventory of the many components that make up our Tasks. Her main passions include travel, hanging out with her three kids, and eating--donuts and Southern comfort food being among her favorites. She recently went on a solo adventure to Charleston, and while at Folly Beach had the most amazing breakfast of her life: fried chicken, bacon and poached eggs nestled between syrup-drizzled pancakes. Ummm, yum!
Sean is one of the newest COC employees, and although he's nonverbal and on the spectrum, he still manages to get a lot of parts assembled with the help of his job coach. He has a full life outside of work as well, and enjoys taking walks along a local greenway, volunteers at a church cleaning windows and tables, picks up trash along the French Broad River through a local organization called RiverLink, relaxes in the hot tub at the Y, and loves digging into a slice of pepperoni pizza!
Vanessa is the Mama Bear of the COC clan, and when she's not occupied with helping Grace get orders ready for shipping and keeping our computers running smoothly, she's busy putting her organizational skills to work in making the shop cleaner and running more efficiently...and planning elaborate celebrations for staff birthdays. She is obsessed with the Eiffel Tower (her house is covered in Eiffel Tower décor), and got to scratch a visit to Paris off her bucket list for her birthday last year. Still remaining on the list: visits to Hawaii and Alaska, to complete having set foot in all 50 states. She loves dogs more than people, and can't help but scratch the bellies and behind the ears of all canines she encounters.