Sep 18, 2023 Community News
Jennifer Poore comes from a family of teachers, and was a teacher herself in Old Orchard Beach for many years. In 2003, her life changed forever when her son, Marston, was diagnosed with Autism.
She decided to take a break from full-time teaching. While raising her two kids, she took on a part-time job as a preschool teacher as a means to stay connected to the world of learning.
Jennifer decided to combine her expertise in education with her experience as a mom to a child with autism and started her business, “Bring the Salad LLC.”
How the Business Name Came to Be
As a devoted advocate for her son, Jennifer has attended many conferences related to his condition. At one such conference, she encountered a speaker who introduced the concept of the "Least Dangerous Assumption."
This principle emphasizes avoiding assumptions about the capabilities of individuals with atypical thinking patterns. By refraining from assuming their limitations, we can expose them to more opportunities in life.
The speaker shared an analogy: Imagine being invited to a party and are asked by the host to bring a salad. Amidst the hustle and bustle of preparations, you forget whether you were indeed assigned the task and have no way of contacting the host beforehand.
In this scenario, the least dangerous assumption would be to believe that you were meant to bring the salad. If it turns out unnecessary, at least you fulfilled your part.
Inspired by this notion, Jennifer decided to name the company “Bring the Salad” as a symbol of challenging societal assumptions about disabilities. Her business, she decided, would focus on providing resources for families raising children with autism.
Blog, Books and Marston’s Artwork
Jennifer started off by writing a blog where she shares insights about her journey as a mother raising a child on the spectrum. She also began writing self-published books specifically tailored for children like her son who read at an early fluent level, but desire more age-appropriate content than traditional children's books.
These books featured controlled vocabulary, shorter sentences, sight words, and lots of supporting pictures. However, just as her writing initiative was taking off, the pandemic struck, and she found herself stuck in lockdown.
During that time, Jennifer learned that her then 17-year old son had a love for art, particularly messy projects involving glue, shapes, glitter and other materials.
She would engage him in artistic activities daily, and soon it became a beloved routine for him. She would joke that others would be getting lots of art for Christmas because his newfound passion had led him to creating a large portfolio of work.
Inspired by the thought, Jennifer started photographing Marston’s creations and turning them into notecards which she distributed as Christmas presents. The response was overwhelmingly positive, prompting her husband to suggest selling them alongside her published books and workbooks.
For Valentine's Day, Marston created postcards featuring heart-themed artworks. In addition to the workbooks and books, Jennifer’s product range includes cards, artwork and t-shirt’s all featuring Marstons’ art.
Business Values and Hopes for the Future
Inclusion has always been a core value of Jennifer’s small business. Even during her teaching career, she made it a point to ensure that every student participated according to their abilities.
One day, Jennifer hopes to expand the business and be able to employ individuals like Marston, creating a welcoming community for kids like him. Currently, she manages everything alone, which she said has proven to be challenging while trying to care for her son.
Nevertheless, she dreams of building a thriving company that generates enough revenue to provide employment opportunities for both Marston and others facing similar circumstances.
“When you have a child with special needs, you learn what is really important in life. You learn to prioritize what is a crisis and what is not. As stressful as it can be, it forces you to try and see the good in the little things,” she said.
“Marston actually worked at Nonantum Restaurant over the summer folding napkins and assisting with silverware. If I had succumbed to dangerous assumptions about his capabilities, I would have been depriving him of experiences and for those to witness how capable he is.
The most heartwarming part is witnessing people greet him warmly and treat him no differently than anybody else. He may have autism, but he’s no different than anyone else in the sense that he desires acceptance and community. And it feels like my grander purpose is to provide a space of inclusion to make the world a better place.”
To learn more about Bring the Salad, visit Jennifer’s blog at: https://bringthesalad.com/