A quaint home turned retail shop nestled in Occoquan provides a unique opportunity for individuals with disabilities.
Spinaweb, located at 305 Commerce Street, is part of a program run by The Arc of Greater Prince William – a non-profit that assists individuals with disabilities – and has been in the community for 30 years.
According to Spinaweb Program Director Debra Vermillion, the shop employs eight individuals with physical and intellectual disabilities.
All of the items created in the shop are handwoven, using yarn that has been donated to them.
“Our weavers actually do all of the weaving and we have another person come in and finish it into products,” said Vermillion.
Vermillion said that the shop sells their products to customers, as a way to generate funds to continue the program.
“Yes we do have a business side of it in that we are a shop, so people do come in and purchase things, but those go right back into providing services for our individuals,” said Vermillion.
The Spinaweb program provides meaningful experiences for the individuals they employ.
“By working in a retail shop like this, they’re not only participating in something meaningful, but they’re also getting to meet people as they walk into the shop…and they all are paid, based on what they do. We do time studies and through the Department of Labor we pay them – every two weeks they get a paycheck just like the rest of us – and so it’s just giving them a meaningful purpose in life,” said Vermillion.
The shop has always been in Occoquan, which has embraced the program participants.
“Occoquan has been very welcoming to us, they’ve gotten to know our guys over the years of course, and so they always welcome them…some of the shops have even opened their doors and have done special events just for us,” said Vermillion.
“I love it here so much,” said program participant Katie.