Meet a Texas Man Giving Adults with Special Needs a Chance to Scoop Up a Living

Jack Nielson of Salt Lake City always wanted a job, yet nobody would give him a possibility since of his disabilities. Tom Landis, a businessman from Dallas, always wanted to assistance people like Jack after flourishing adult with a mom who had polio. 

Now together a dual are lifting recognition by Howdy Homemade Ice Cream, a singular Texas-based association started by Landis, 48, to give people with egghead and developmental disabilities a possibility to acquire a vital and benefit profitable life practice they were mostly denied before.

Jack, 21, who is developmentally disabled, now spends several hours a day scooping ice cream into cups, soaking dishes, emptying rubbish cans and swelling smiles during a Howdy Homemade authorization non-stop by his parents, Chris and Heidi Nielson, final summer in Salt Lake City’s Sugarhouse neighborhood.


Although he doesn’t speak, “it’s transparent that he loves his pursuit and he loves Tom,” Heidi, 42, tells PEOPLE. “As a mom of a child with special needs, it was easy for me to wish to scapegoat my time and bid in opening a Howdy store. What’s extraordinary to me is that Tom — who doesn’t have a child with special needs — would do a same.”

Landis, who also operates a sequence of Texadelphia cheesesteak sandwich shops, motionless to open an ice cream emporium in Dallas dual years ago (the Utah store is his initial franchise), since he had worked with several infirm people in his restaurants and knew they were overworked and arguable employees.

“I’ve seen them attain over what people approaching they’d be means to,” he tells PEOPLE, “and substantially a best thing is that a pursuit other people competence not cruise critical is a life-changer for them.”

“If nobody will sinecure we and we have 0 to do all day, afterwards we finish adult examination TV all a time,” he says, “and that’s a shame. We need to get over some of these amicable stigmas about people with special needs. They have some-more to offer than people realize.”

Landis, whose mother, Sunni, had polio “but never complained about anything,” motionless when he went into a grill business that he would sinecure as many infirm people as possible. 

“We have a outrageous grill attention in Dallas and we have a outrageous turnover and patron use problem,” he says, “and yet, really few places are employing adults with special needs, even yet we have some-more than 240,000 such people in north Texas alone. There are too many competent people who are not being given a chance. It’s my aim to change that.”

Two years ago, when he non-stop Howdy Homemade Ice Cream, he fast filled his register with employees with special needs (14 out of 16), with a idea of one day opening additional franchises. 

“So many of my employees have been ignored and underestimated their whole lives,” he tells PEOPLE, “and that’s unacceptable. we wish that we could sinecure them all.”

One of those employees, Annemarie Carrigan, 20, who has Down syndrome, worked her approach adult by an internship and is now using a money register during Howdy Homemade. 

“Annemarie only indispensable a place to start, and though Tom, we competence still be looking,” says her father, Pat Carrigan, 59. “He understands that people with egghead and developmental disabilities are people with their possess strengths and weaknesses. Like all of us, they only need to find their niche.”

“Tom is encouraged by a constant adore of his associate man,” adds Chris Nielson, 52, who now delights in examination his son, Jack, work during a family’s Howdy Homemade store in Salt Lake City. “He puts people initial and is a proponent of a loser — a monument in today’s business world.”

Landis, who dreams of putting one of his ice cream shops in each state, says he can’t suppose doing business any other way.

“When somebody is put into a amatory sourroundings where they are socially accepted, they will develop and grow,” he says, “and that advantages everyone. It competence take longer to sight somebody with a disability, yet a payback is incredible. My employees are accessible and constant and we have a 0 turnover rate. When they’re given a chance, everybody wins.”

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