Forces unite to kickstart Maryhaven greeting card biz

Another satisfied employee: Maryhaven Center of Hope -- with help from FuzeHub, the MTRC and others -- will soon launch its own greeting card business, staffed by persons with disabilities.

A program dedicated to assisting Long Island manufacturers has partnered with a regional nonprofit that provides resources for people with disabilities on a project that has created a new greeting-card business.

FuzeHub, a statewide New York Manufacturing Extension Partnership center, has long partnered with the New York Alliance for Inclusion and Innovation to provide assistance at manufacturing facilities that employ people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

On Long Island, the Stony Brook University-based Manufacturing & Technology Resource Consortium – the Island’s regional Manufacturing Extension Partnership center – has been working with Hope Social Enterprise, part of Catholic Health Services of Long Island’s Port Jefferson Station-based Maryhaven Center of Hope, to transition the enterprise from a “sheltered workshop” to a “profitable manufacturing business with a transformation plan outline,” according to FuzeHub.

Leveraging resources provided by SBU’s Small Business Development Center, the MTRC helped Hope Social Enterprise identify a new revenue source – the production of greeting cards designed and packaged by HSE employees.

And on the strength of an MTRC grant, Maryhaven Center of Hope will soon introduce the new products – a transformation plan officially endorsed by the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities.

Hope Social Enterprise is also using a $120,000 Google Nonprofit AdWord Grant to develop a commercial website and introduce its own online store on the e-commerce platform Etsy, according to FuzeHub.

Imin Kao: MTRC happy to do its part.

“Helping these workshops transform into real, sustainable businesses is the goal of this collaboration,” noted Everton Henriques, FuzeHub’s NY MEP solutions manager. “It is very rewarding to see how eagerly some of these agencies are looking at transforming their business approach to a more sustainable model with MEP assistance.”

James White, a social business development coordinator at Maryhaven, credited the Stony Brook SBDC with providing the “technical business planning assistance” necessary to bring the program to fruition, including “detailed pro-forma profit & loss statements” and other documentation.

“This gives Maryhaven’s management a method of prioritizing the complex decision process required to account for both the mission sensibilities [and] the financial realities of our enterprise,” White noted. “Of particular benefit was their complete greeting card business plan, which included an extensive marketing, operations and financial plan.”

The success story is the latest example of FuzeHub’s partnerships with the New York Alliance for Inclusion and Innovation, which provides access to MEP services and programs to a previously unserved portion of the New York State manufacturing supply chain. The collaboration has served 12 workshops across the state, all of which cater to persons with disabilities as their “primary workforce,” according to FuzeHub.

The MTRC provided an additional $2,000 award to help with the expansion of the greeting-card manufacturing facility. Manufacturing Extension Partnership Center Executive Director Imin Kao called efforts like this “fundamental to our community.”

“We at MTRC are glad to be able to have the opportunity to work with Maryhaven through [the New York State Rehabilitation Association] and FuzeHub, (and to) have a hand in the development of their business and assist in their mission,” Kao said in a statement.

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