Our mission is to provide opportunities for job skills to persons with disabilities by learning all roles of working in a hospitality business along with improving relational skills to network within the community.


The unemployment rate for Americans with intellectual and developmental disabilities is an estimated 80 percent. Employers shy away from hiring them because of the cost of training and developing employees which may take longer. People with intellectual and learning disabilities are often left with sheltered workshops as their primary option.

According to the U.S. General Accounting Office, over half of the employees of sheltered workshops remain there for more than five years, while many stay for over twenty, being paid less than the federal minimum wage for repeative, menial labor.

In contrast, The Hive eatery in Willard will create meaningful and relevant learning experiences for people “at risk” for unemployment. People with disabilities will work and train collectively with their typically developing peers (approxiately 50/50), receiving training in all aspects of food production, service, and marketing. A six week training internship, as well as paid employment, will be available. Missouri’s minimum wage as a starting salary for all employees, all levels of restaurant management will be introduced, and a focus will be on fostering relationships with local vendors in a farm-to-table model.

We chose The Hive as our name because the beehive is a symbol of the life-giving power of belonging, participation, and team-work at it’s best.

Our mission is not just to teach job skills but to provide opportunities for participants in our program to grow as individuals – creatively, professionally, and interpersonally. We aim to preparelife-ready graduates who will leave our program, not only with marketable skills, but as marketable employees with social skills and a work ethic that will challenge the traditional expectations of people with disabilties.


Sub-minimum wage and segregated employment have been the norm for years in Southwest Missouri. In addition, training and opportunity for jobs for people with disabilities have been scarce. The Hive will be a training ground for both persons with special needs, as well as valuable experience to typically developing persons. With this business model, we seek to demonstrate how local businesses and the general public benefit from a culture ofdiversity and inclusion.

Historically, people with developmental disabilities have been viewed as sub-human and, even in Missouri, they may find employment at sheltered workshops where they are paid less than the federal minimum wage for unskilled labor. Many view this as a benefit for individuals who are not expected to be able to participate in a competitive workforce. However, we believe that people with developmental disabilities can function and thrive in the workforce.

We chose The Hive as our name because the beehive is a symbol of the life-giving power of belonging, participation, and teamwork at it’s best. We all deserve a place to belong, a purpose to fulfill, and a path to success. We aim to
prepare life-ready graduates. We believe they will leave our program not only with marketable skills but as marketable employees with the social skills and work ethic needed to create a culture where all of our differing abilities are celebrated. The Hive will not be a shelter, but a hub and launch-pad for people with developmental disabilities.

Professional Collaboration

Currently, there is a gap between the transition services available to people with developmental disabilities and the employers who may ultimately facilitate their greatest possible independence by paying them a living wage for their services.

Agencies providing these services are limited in staff and funds, and often struggle to help individuals with developmental disabilities complete the transition from dependent child to a fully functioning adult in their workplace and community. To bridge the gap, the Hive will support and collaborate with area inter- agencies such as:

  • Abilities First
  • Developmental Center of the Ozarks
  • Employment Solutions of the Ozarks (ARC of the Ozarks)
  • MERS Goodwill
  • Preferred Employment
  • Vocational Rehabilitation
  • Empower Abilities

We aim to establish relationships and partnership with area universities so that students majoring in Special Education, Hospitality, Physical Therapy, and Occupational therapy can work with us. In addition, we will seek out certified professional physical therapist assistants (PTAs) and occupational therapy assistants (COTAs) who can advise us on the accessibility of our training and facilities.

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