SUDAN, Texas — In a quiet shop in rural West Texas, a group of young adults with disabilities are hard at work. They’re making flower arrangements, organizing clothes and selling treats door to door.
It’s all because of a place called Shelby’s Bridge.
“Our mission is to train adults with disabilities on life and work skills,” Donna Smith, administrator of Shelby’s Bridge, said.
Shelby’s Bridge is a nonprofit organization based in Sudan, just an hour Northwest of Lubbock. It features two shops and a cafe, and its mission is to empower and create opportunities for people with disabilities — “bridging” the gap between school and adult life.
“We want them to feel the support and the love and the respect that they may not have gotten in school — or anywhere,” Smith said.
They belong to a group often not just underserved — but overlooked.
“Once [people with disabilities] leave high school, the benefits offered to them in this area are almost nothing,” Smith said.
“We have a huge need for places [like Shelby’s Bridge] in West Texas,” Barbie Priest, Special Education Director for Honda SSA, said.
The organization draws families from all over the South Plains — eager to be a part of a larger community.
“We believe everybody deserves an opportunity to live their best life,” Smith said.
And as they learn critical life skills, they also get to have some fun too.
“These kids love to come to Shelby’s Bridge … They talk about, they tell you about it, I know they go home and tell their parents about it,” Priest said.
Just ask some of the young adults hard at work at the cafe on Thursday.
“It’s a really great place. They help us do all kinds of stuff,” Ryan Barrera, age 17, said.
“It’s helped me be a leader. It helps me communicate. It helps me get out of my little shell,” Alex Iglesias, age 16, said.
“I just love it,” Avel Sinklier, age 18, said.
It gives them and their families a sense of hope and a sense of security that no matter what, they’re set up for success in the future.
“A place where they can fit, where they have a home, where they are supported and loved and respected, and Shelby’s Bridge is it,” Smith said.
If you’re interested in getting involved with Shelby’s Bridge, head to its website here or call 806-227-2233.