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MAKING A MARK: Chesapeake woman helps students with special needs gain life skills

Patti Howell owns Hickory Trading Company in Chesapeake, and she's using her business to help students with special needs gain confidence.

CHESAPEAKE, Va. — Hickory Trading Company is a rustic coffee house and artisan gift shop in Chesapeake. "Our goal was for it to feel like home," says owner Patti Howell, "to have it be a very welcoming environment." 

This place may serve a great 'cup of joe', but it serves an even greater purpose. After 26 years in education, Howell is providing work experience at her business for people with special needs. 

"We're all about pulling out to the potential in each other and in our students," says Howell.

This is a joint effort with Powell's nonprofit serving those with special needs, Hitching Post Educational Center. 

"Our students... get to have experience doing all the different jobs," says Howell. "Their confidence just grows."

Howell says they learn life skills in the shop while spreading awareness in the community, making coffee only the second best thing brewing at Hickory Trading Company. 

"When you get to come in and have coffee and lunch, you realize that they're amazing people. So... it's just really good for exposure," says Howell. 

"We wanna provide that opportunity where they can just really grow, and the rest of the world can see what they have to offer."

More about Hickory Trading Company.

To learn about Hitching Post Educational Center

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