By Brett Ashley Hawkins
Nestled between a doctor’s office and a 98-cent store, the building at 3636 Atlantic Avenue houses three different businesses/organizations under one roof. The building is most commonly referred to as the Copy House, a copy center of sorts, which later became home to InkPeace, an ink and toner retailer.
What isn’t advertised in bold on the building’s street sign, however, is Community Life, an adult day program based in the rear of the building. Funded by the State of California and headed by Eric Piety, Community Life provides adults with developmental disabilities the training and support they need to achieve increased independence.
In support of Community Life, Piety founded a nonprofit foundation known as Work Skills Foundation, with a vision to provide a workplace where clients of Community Life can work and receive pay. Piety gives the Community Life clients the opportunity to work to promote self-esteem, team-building skills and independence. “In the everyday world, these people would most likely be unemployable largely due to their limited skills and need for specialized support,” said Mark Hawkins, who owns InkPeace.
InkPeace is a small, corner kiosk inside the Copy House building. Though a separate business, Hawkins grants Community Life clients tasks similar to those given by Piety at the Copy House. “The team dynamic of these individuals is interesting to watch,” said Hawkins. “Some are more well-spoken and can answer the phone and talk to a customer with ease, while others may not have the speaking skills but sure know how to crunch numbers and organize things really well. It seems where one employee lacks, another has strength in that same area.”
Piety believes that there is a lesson to be learned for all of us. “Too many of us take everyday life, including the ability to work, for granted.”
Brett Ashley Hawkins is the son of Mark Hawkins, owner of InkPeace.