Baking and big hearts go hand in hand when it comes to one Illinois family.
When Margaret Cortes found herself unemployed in 2018, she decided to open a bakery to make sure she could afford her child’s education.
But the bakery also had another purpose: to employ her 16-year-old son, Frankie, who has cerebral palsy.
Cortes named the shop Special Kneads Bakery.
“He’s got a lot of diagnosis against him,” Cortes told KWQC-TV in a recent interview.
“He’s got cerebral palsy, he’s got Dandy-Walker variant, which is a malformation of the brain, he’s got vision issues so he’s blind in one eye.”
When her son was born, she added, doctors said he may not ever be able to walk.
Now, Frankie not only walks, but the high school senior works in the front of the shop, serving customers with a smile.
According to the non-profit bakery’s official Facebook page, Cortes got the idea to open Special Kneads when a local bakery shut down after 80 years in business.
“Bingo that is it!” she wrote. “Let’s open a bakery to provide for my family and for there to be a place for Frankie when he enters the workplace.”
Apart from giving her son a job, Cortes wanted to make sure he was interacting with people and learning social skills.
“He can sing, he can dance, he can run, he can jump. He can do so many things,” she said.
“It was important for me that he didn’t end up just working in a factory or working where he wasn’t getting that exposure to other people.”
Frankie is loving every minute, too.
“I just try and treat everyone with respect and make them smile,” he told KWQC-TV. “I like serving the community because it makes my heart feel good.”
The Facebook page says the bakery hopes to hire others with disabilities in the future.