QUEEN CREEK, AZ — A Queen Creek mother went to Facebook to find friends for her son who has autism, and what she got in return was so much more.
Kohbe Tyre is one of Shalayna Tyre’s six kids. He's 20 years old and has autism. He loves people, so quarantining during the pandemic has been especially hard for him.
"I love telling jokes to people," said Kohbe.
Kohbe used to work at Harkins as an usher greeting people. His mother said he was laid off at the beginning of the pandemic and he's missed being around others.
A couple of weeks ago, Shalayna posted to Facebook to see if other parents of kids with special needs wanted to organize a meet-up.
Parents of kids of all ages responded with similar stories. Shalayna said she was overwhelmed to see how many families were in the same boat.
Kohbe also got two job offers. He's now working as a greeter at Schnepf Farms on the weekends.
"I get to greet people; I hand them out maps, I see some people I know from high school," said Kohbe.
He also got a job at the Old West Homebrew Saloon, an old-fashioned soda and ice cream shop in Florence.
"Everybody that came in -- he got to tell jokes to -- he got to interact. But she's also teaching him skills like taking orders, taking money, and using the cash register, which usually he wouldn't have the opportunity to do," said Shalayna.
"In our shop, they're learning everything," said shop owner Amy Kennett.
Kennett runs the place with her four kids, two of whom have special needs. Her son Thomas has autism, and her daughter Abigail has cerebral palsy.
"My son is on the same boat, he struggles socially to make those connections and this little business that we have has made him so confident. It boosts his self-esteem," said Kennett.
Kohbe has only had one full day of work, but he's already learned a lot and made new friends.
"It's really cool I got to see some people I can relate to and are like me," said Kohbe.
Kennett said she hopes to grow her business and eventually employ more people with special needs.
She worked with the Florence Chamber of Commerce to organize what they're calling an "Ability Fair." It'll be on Main Street in historic Florence on October 23 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Kennett said the goal is to let people with special needs shine. They'll have entertainment, vendors and activities for families.
They're looking to get more people involved. If you're interested, reach out to Kennett at: firstname.lastname@example.org