Our mission is to help young adults with special needs harness their own special talents and prepare them to transition to rewarding careers and realize their dreams of leading meaningful lives.
We envision a community where young adults with special needs can transition from high school to the adult working world with dignity. We foresee special young adults able to capitalize on their strengths, acquire essential job skills, realize their potential, and gain confidence in interacting with their typically developing peers.
We get asked two questions all the time, “What’s the story of ZABS Place?” and “Who is ZABS?” As directors of Friendship Circle, an organization supporting children with special needs, Bentzion and Rochel Groner realized that employment opportunities for young adults with special needs were severely limited following graduation from high school. The Groners had been exploring potential solutions when they were approached by Charlie and Caren Gale, who had become frustrated in their effort to find employment for their 18-year-old son on the Autism Spectrum. After extensive research and much joint effort ZABS Place opened in 2014.
So who is ZABS? ZABS is the acronym of the Hebrew name of a young man named Zachary. A happy, athletic, positive, take-over-the-world (in a good way) teen. He was awesome to be around. His friends and family loved him. His teachers raved about him. He was passionate about helping others, especially children and teens with special needs. That’s how he got involved in Friendship Circle. When Zachary was 18, he was diagnosed with a horrific form of Leukemia. He fought a ferocious battle and bravely faced the challenges and suffering no 18 year old should know. Ever! Zachary went into a remission for a short while but unfortunately the dreaded disease came back, and Zachary was taken from us at the young age of 19. ZABS Place reminds us of Zecharya Avraham Boruch Shporer and the incredible example he lived and taught.
ZABS Training Program
It’s hard to get a job with no experience. It’s even harder to get experience with no job. That’s why we’re here. We offer Job Skills Training, based on the interests and abilities of each of our Specially Talented trainees.
ZABS After Hours
We believe that work should be FUN. But, so should hanging out together! That’s why we offer After-Hours events for our ZABS Talent to enjoy socializing, spending time, and sharing laughs together, just like their peers!
We’re AMAZED by the abilities of our Special Talent. That’s why we’re dedicated to helping local Special Talent perfect their skills and create a sellable product, right in our store! We support Special Micro-businesses.
We love crafting and we’re all about inclusion. That’s why we created an inclusive opportunity to craft and build community with individuals who have special
needs talents. This is another way we teach skills that can lead to financial independence.
Chief Executive Talent
A Rabbi, a Dreamer, and a Native Charlottean walk into ZABS Place. Sounds like a joke but actually it’s Bentzion (or Rabbi Ben as we call him). As Chief Executive Talent, Rabbi Ben wears many hats at ZABS. You might find him pitching ZABS to a crowd of 1,000, chatting with a potential donor, or arranging a truck load of donated furniture from a showroom in High Point, NC. Whatever he’s doing it’s with enough passion for 10 people!
Fun Fact: Bentzion’s dream job is to be a pilot!
Caren is a true Mamma Bear! She won’t rest until all her cubs are cared for. Caren became a special needs advocate when her son was diagnosed with Autism at age 2. She realized that with a little encouragement and support, anyone and everyone can succeed. Today, Caren is the Chief Advocate and Community Liaison for ZABS Place.
Fun Fact: Caren is an incredible best story-teller and her cub son Jonathan was the first employee at ZABS Place!
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” Yep, that’s Kim in a “Meet & Greet” with another young adult who would like to join the training program at ZABS Place. Kim’s job is to juggle meeting the young adults on our waiting list, and finding out all about their dreams for the future, while also being a rock-star Job Coach for the ZABS Talent already in our program! You’ll never catch her without a smile!
Fun Fact: Kim is the founder of A Chance to Dance which provides dance lessons to differently-abled children!
Snow Globe Shaker
Snow globes are beautiful… until the glitter settles. Then they’re kinda boring. Lisa makes sure to shake things up just enough so the glitter swirls again! She’s all about opportunity and making magic happen at ZABS Place. She’s also the one who helps you find that special something when you happen to stumble in “just to look around.”
Fun Fact: Lisa has Super Talents! She’s been Director of a Preschool, Head of a Retail Store, and even Director of a Children’s Museum.
Inspirational Fact: ZABS Place is named after Lisa’s son Zachary who passed away from Leukemia when he was 19.
Worker-bee. Workaholic. Workhorse. Call it what you want, but this girl is ALWAYS working. Pricing clothes, ringing up a customer, fixing furniture, upcycling a “curb-find”, are all things Rochel does on the side. Her main job of course is being the Director of ZABS Place!
Fun Fact: Rochel is sometimes called the “Girl on the Plane” thanks to an interesting experience she had on (you guessed it) an airplane back in the summer of 2017.
Meet Stacy. Trust us, you’ll want to meet her. She can organize a house, car, office and even the dreading spare room with the hoards of stuff all before you can say, “Waaaait!!!” Seriously, Stacy is the ZABS Product Queen. Everything donated to ZABS is carefully examined by Stacy and her team to determine its true potential and then displayed to maximize its opportunity for finding the perfect new home.
Fun Fact: Stacy moves 1 TON of ZABS Stealz/day
We are fortunate to have the support and partnership of incredible local businesses to help us recognize Special Talents and #Zpotential:
Action Plus Ideas
Brown Brothers Harriman
Deckard Heating & Air Conditioning
Morningstar Storage | Tyvola
South State Bank
Wells Fargo Foundation
Allan & Marcelle Oxman
Charlie & Caren Gale
Jeff Cohen, BECO
Dave & Sandy Krikac, The Gear Foundation
Ed & Leslie Rusgo
Eric & Lori Sklut
Eric & Susan Lerner, Action Plus Ideas
Fred & Lisa Shporer
Jewish Family Services of Greater Charlotte
Jewish Federation of Greater Charlotte
Jon & Dina Massachi
Levine-Sklut Family Foundation
Luquire George Andrews, Inc.
Michael Garrie, Signature Exteriors
Matt & Jane Herson
Robert & Ann Abel
Sarah Conklin, Little Engine Photography
Social Venture Partners (Seed 20)
True Homes Foundation
William & Ruth Baker
2018 Dedicated Volunteers
Charlie & Caren Gale
Fred & Lisa Shporer
Joshua & Debbie Chopas