It was nothing but clear, sunny skies when One Stop Gift Shop held their grand opening ribbon cutting ceremony on June 26. The quaint variety store, located at 113 Levittown Pkwy. in Hicksville, sells everything from dog toys to candles to purses to jewelry—a true testament to the shop’s name.
However, the business isn’t your average gift shop. Owned and operated by AHRC Nassau, a nonprofit organization that provides supports and services for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, One Stop Gift Shop operates as one of AHRC’s day programs to employ those with disabilities—giving them the opportunity to work and grow in a professional environment as they gain experience stocking, selling and handling products, and developing customer service skills.
Karen Tanzillo, senior director for AHRC’s residential and day programs, explained that one of the main goals of the business is to have employees enhance their resumes and gain the skills they’ll need so they can eventually work their way to having a job outside of One Stop Gift Shop.
“That’s one very important part,” Tanzillo said. “But the other part is that we’re able to give back to the community. Hicksville and the surrounding communities will pick a [local] charity or an organization in which we’ll use the proceeds from the sales of the store to donate back to the community. I think it’s going to be a great partnership and we’re really excited to be a part of the community here.”
Before the location was a gift shop, AHRC previously used the space as the Look Nook Thrift Store. Tanzillo said that upon realizing they could “do something a little bit more with it, it grew into this idea of partnering with the community and providing some supports for people who really are interested in getting a job.”
Tanzillo was at a loss for words when trying to describe her emotions about the day’s event.
“[The shop’s opening] was a long time in the making. From an idea to get to where we are today, I’m so incredibly proud of the team. They really put their heart and soul into this and I couldn’t be more proud,” she said. “To know that what it stands for, not only for the people that are going to be supported by it, but for the community—it’s overwhelming, it really is.”
Dinora Gomez, who said she has received support from AHRC for four years, expressed her gratitude for the retail employment opportunity AHRC has given her.
“I’m looking forward to making the customers comfortable around us, making the customers happy as best as we can with a big smile always. I think I did a good job with the grand opening today,” she said. “We had a lot of customers today. I’m proud of myself [for] doing this. I’m so extremely happy. I just feel like I have a lot of support. I love helping people. That’s why I’m here—to help [customers] and make everybody comfortable. I could not be more excited to do this job.”
Beth Dalton, of Dalton Funeral Homes and a Hicksville Chamber of Commerce board member, said she’s looking forward to the impact One Stop Gift Shop will have on the community.
“The AHRC is a wonderful program because it takes lives and gives them meaning, hope and self-esteem. [One Stop Gift Shop] is an absolutely gorgeous shop and it’s going to give all of these folks a resource to go and work and to create and to participate in the community,” she said.
One Stop Gift Shop is directly next door to AHRC’s office. Along with providing employment
for those with disabilities, the organization also provides volunteer services, in-home services and residential opportunities for those with disabilities that seek living on their own or with others.
To learn more about the AHRC, visit ahrc.org. Visit One Stop Gift Shop at 113 Levittown Pkwy. in Hicksville.