The Spirit of Inpendence

Fair spotlights entrepreneurship of developmentally disabled.

By: Keith Reid/Record Staff Writer


Kate Daugherty wants to make your life easier, so the 24-year old Bear Creek High School graduate has started an errand service.  She’ll take care of your pets, deliver your groceries or house sit for you.  She’ll water your plants and pick up your mail.

“Holiday errands got you frazzled? Its KLD Errand Service to the rescue”, is her most recent marketing pitch.  The irony is that for most of her life, people have thought they needed to help lift some of the life’s burdens off Daugherty’s shoulders.  Daugherty has cerebral palsy, which affects her nervous system.  She started the business as a way to earn extra money, and she’s saving the tips she earns from running errands so she eventually will be able to move out of her parent’s home.  Her business was on display at the Valley Mountain Regional Center’s Microbusiness Fair for entrepreneurs who have developmental disabilities.  “I have a job now, at United Cerebral Palsy, and I’m hoping this can help me make enough to pay for rent,” she said.  “I really can have my independence.”

Friday’s Microbusiness Fair offered an opportunity for 22 developmentally disabled residents or groups to display their entrepreneurial skills.  Along with Daugherty’s errand service, other businesses looked to attract customers who need computer repairs, paper-shredding services or custom-made clothing.  Justin Sanborn, 26 for example, sold cookbooks with his favorite recipes.  Byran Smith will fix your computer through his company, The Computer Whisperers.  Greeting cards and other craft-based products also were on display.  Stockton resident Sarah Werner, 26, sells custom-made tote bags and sacks featuring her own art work.  The business is called Sarah’s Saks.  “Business is good,” said Werner, who wore an apron displaying the prices for each product:  $11 for an emergency “sak” or pet pouch.  A smaller pouch or “every-day sak” is $5.  Werner’s mother, Kathy said her daughter is inspired by watching movies and drinking soda.  Elsewhere at the fair, a Lodi Unified School District workability class sold homemade dog biscuits.

Valley Mountain Regional Center Executive Director Richard Jacobs said this is the second year of the fair, and it is in place to encourage the developmentally disabled to reveal their entrepreneurial spirit and to find ways to supplement their Supplemental Security Income.  It is an initiative spearheaded by state officials, Jacobs said.  “Just because somebody has a developmental disability, it doesn’t mean they have to stay home and watch daytime television,” Jacobs said.  Daugherty agrees completely.  She prefers to be out on the run, shopping or pet sitting.  “If you need someone to take care of your dog, I will care for it like a baby,” she said.  “Kennels don’t do that, I will.”  Spoken like an entrepreneur with a well-crafted sales pitch.  Independence Fair helps entrepreneurs supplement SSI benefits.

Kate has since gained full independence by moving out of her parent’s home.  Sarah Werner is employed by UCP also.