Michael and Tempa Kohler are the cofounders of the non-profit organization, Special Kneads and Treats in Lawrenceville, Georgia. Michael and Tempa have two kids, Bradley and Ashley. Their son, Bradley, was born with Fragile X Syndrome and when he was 22 years old and aging out of the county supported programs, they were trying to find a job for him. When they realized there weren’t many options, they started dreaming up starting a bakery that would employ adults with special needs. In 2014, they officially opened Special Kneads and Treats where they provide employment and training to adults with special needs. They sell sweet treats at their store front as well as cater for birthdays, weddings, baby showers, anniversaries, and other parties and celebrations. Additionally, they have a program called Cakes for Kiddos where they provide cakes to children, special needs individuals, and elderly who cannot afford a birthday cake.
Before co-founding Special Kneads and Treats, Michael worked in operations management. He also was the GAA Special Populations Assistant Director and Baseball Commissioner. Tempa previously baked and decorated cakes with The Bridal Kitchen and T.J.’s Sweets.
In the episode, Michael and Tempa talk about learning about Bradley’s diagnosis, the joys and challenges of having a child with special needs, starting Special Kneads and Treats, the behind the scenes of the organization, their goals for the organization going forward, why they think that everyone should employ people with special needs, and the challenges that they faced with the bakery during COVID.
This episode is hosted by Emma Benner.
What we talked about:
2:50- Introduction to Michael and Tempa; what they did for work previously and what they are doing now
4:30- How Michael and Tempa met
5:10- Sharing about their two kids and talking about their son Bradley’s diagnosis of Fragile X Syndrome
8:50- Some of the challenges that they faced while raising a child with special needs
12:50- The biggest lessons that they have learned from parenting a child with special needs and being in the special needs community
14:40- How Special Kneads and Treats got started
23:05- Some of the people that helped and believed in them in starting Special Kneads and Treats
30:00- Their stance on employing adults with special needs and why they think that every company should too
36:10- Each of their roles in the organization
41:30- What a typical day at work looks like for each of them and for their employees
49:45- How COVID affected their bakery
57:05- How people can help and support their nonprofit organization
1:01:30- End of podcast questions
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