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Positively Inclusive: The Story of Everyday Sunshine

By: Jeff Sharp, Founder & Director, Everyday Sunshine

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I was introduced to the world of disabilities through my daughter Amelie.

Amelie was born with cataracts on both eyes, cerebral palsy, and an extremely rare brain disorder called TUBB 5. Although she is a happy and healthy 17-year-old, she will never do many things that her typical peers do with ease. She will never drive a car, go on a walk unattended, move off to college, live without supervision, or have children. These things break my heart.

We want our daughter to find her way in society and thrive — the very same things that you want for your children. One of the main concerns of parents of a child with different needs is, “What happens to my child after they leave high school?” This is a heavy question. Please take 20 seconds to imagine yourself in this situation and the worries that might come with it… I’ll wait!

Everyday Sunshine was started as my small way of advocating for Amelie and her peer group to make sure that they have their rightful place in the community.

The unemployment rate for a person in Alabama with an intellectual disability is 81 percent. I repeat: 81 percent of these people either have no job or work less than 10 hours a week. This is not an opinion; it’s a fact.

In 2022, we opened the Everyday Sunshine Thrift Store as our small way of fighting this problem. Since then, we’ve trained 10 people with intellectual disabilities, and five of them are currently employed at the store. Our plan is to double that number over the next two years.

The Thrift Store also serves as a work co-op partner for the AIM Program at both Decatur and Austin High Schools. Students with disabilities come over once a week to develop job skills, practice social skills, and gain confidence in their abilities.

GraceLife Church was gracious enough to donate the 5,000-square-foot space that houses our store because they saw the need to serve those who are often overlooked in our community.

The workforce at Everyday Sunshine is a result of a partnership with the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services. “We are always grateful to wonderful partners like Everyday Sunshine for helping Decatur and Morgan County students achieve their maximum potential,” said Nancy Adams, Vocational Rehabilitation Supervisor. “We look forward to many success stories.”

Our space has literally been overflowing with donations from the community since the day we opened.

People can buy discount blue jeans and dishes at any number of places, but the mission to change the lives of those with disabilities is what sets us apart.

Our motto is STUFF = JOBS. When you donate gently used clothing, housewares, home decor items, and more, you are providing employment.

Our mission is to create an inclusive, public environment for people with different abilities to work, socialize, gain a greater sense of purpose, and take steps towards independence. With your support, we’re working towards that goal, one day at a time.

Jeff Sharp,

Founder & Director of Everyday Sunshine

Jeff Sharp is the Founder and Director of Everyday Sunshine, a Decatur-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to make the world a little more inclusive to those with physical, intellectual, and sensory disabilities.

Jeff’s wife of over twenty years, Andrea, is the Everyday Sunshine Thrift Store Manager. Together they have two daughters, Amelie and Jules. Jeff enjoys recording music and creating collages after he gets the family in bed.

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