The Rainforest Rescuer: Crystal Doody’s Story

 

By Janis Gioia

For this week’s post, we are introducing a mini-series written by Janis Gioia with an inside look at some of our super-star shippers. Read on to learn more about our first interviewee, Crystal.  Crystal lives in the Akron, Ohio area and is 32 years old. She has a disability, but that doesn't stop her from working hard towards a better word for herself and her favorite animals.

The Rainforest Rescuer: Crystal Doody's Story

                        Lunch break with the team.

                        Lunch break with the team.

Peaceful Fruits is in the snack business.
Making certified organic, sustainable, 100% real fruit snacks is what they do.
They have a second business that doesn’t earn them a dime, but is equally as important as the first.

Peaceful Fruits is in the business of changing people’s lives:
Consumers, who enjoy healthy delicious snacks, free of additives, dyes and other fillers.  

Farmers in the Amazon, who, through Peaceful Fruit’s renewable and sustainable farming practices, can provide for their families in a way that does not exploit the earth through mining and logging.
And, closer to home, Peaceful Fruits provides full wage jobs for adults with mental health and developmental disabilities.  
For these workers, the job means so much more than labeling a box or shipping products to retailers.  It’s life changing.  

Just ask Crystal.

From A Rough Start

Shuffled between thirteen foster homes between the ages of 2 and 9 ½, Crystal Doody’s only constant was fear and confusion.  Crystal didn’t like being bounced between multiple foster homes and trying to fit in with different families.

Missing her sister, who was placed with other foster families, Crystal found comfort in her love for animals and nature, always hoping to be reunited with her sister in a forever family.

Crystal’s wish came true when she was 10 years old.  She and her sister were adopted into a loving home, after many years spent apart.  Crystal finally had love in a stable family, and as an added bonus: pets.

In a life that now included three dogs and three cats, Crystal became even more interested in animals.  At Cuyahoga Falls High School, her favorite subject was biology.

“I really loved biology because we were learning about nature, and animal behavior and all the things that are important to me and our world,” says Crystal.

To a Peaceful Mission

Here's Crystal (center) with the original team!

Here's Crystal (center) with the original team!

When Crystal got a job with Peaceful Fruits, through a partnership with Blick Center, a nonprofit that supports adults and children with mental health, developmental and behavioral conditions, it was a beautiful pairing of her love of animals and nature and her desire to make a difference.

Peaceful Fruits, make delicious organic fruit snacks in an eco-friendly, sustainable enterprise, it was a beautiful pairing of her love of animals and nature and her desire to make a difference.
“I saw a picture of the rainforest and all the plants and animals that Peaceful Fruits is helping.  We are helping the rainforest and all the animals by not polluting the air.  We plant trees to grow acai berries instead of cutting trees down.  We help the farmers and the animals and the earth.

Crystal’s part in this eco-friendly, socially-responsible business takes many roles.
“I like doing lots of different things,” Crystal shares.  “I do many things at Peaceful Fruits: labeling, heat sealing, packaging and shipping.”

Because of her disabilities, reading can be somewhat of a challenge for Crystal.  She really appreciates the visual aspects of her job.   
“Bonny, my occupational therapist shows me how to do things and I follow her example."
Crystal also plans to follow Peaceful Fruit’s example of giving back by pursuing a career in veterinary assisting.

“I want to make a difference for animals like Peaceful Fruits does for the rainforest and animals,” Crystal shares.  “I want to go to college and study animal behavior and become a veterinary assistant.”

‘Peaceful Fruits has helped me with my life goals.  I’ve been here for almost two years and it feels so good to do a good job and know that I am working hard for them and helping to develop skills I can use in my life,” Crystal says.
“I love when people tell me that I’m doing a good job.  I love that I am working and also helping the rainforest and the animals.  I know I am accomplishing something.”   

To Becoming a Superhero, of Sorts

Crystal is accomplishing something, no doubt, and so is Peaceful Fruits, in their creation of over 25 full wage jobs for people with disabilities.  Partnering with Blick Center and Hattie Larhlam, two local nonprofits, Peaceful Fruits is really doing more than offering employment opportunities for a population who is often overlooked and underserved.

Keila Hamed, who does sales and operations for Peaceful Fruits says, “Though I had been with Peaceful Fruits for a while, I didn't fully realize what Peaceful Fruits was all about until I walked through the doors of The Blick Center.”
“There I was greeted by many smiling faces, who were excited to introduce themselves and share with me what they do for Peaceful Fruits.” She concludes, “Being able to be a part of that joy is so precious and I'm very thankful that we can all work together to be part of something greater than ourselves."

Peaceful Fruits is definitely part of something greater.
It is changing many lives, from the farmers they support in their eco-friendly sustainable business model, to their inclusive workforce.
By allowing individuals with disabilities the opportunities to use their skills and build new ones, Peaceful Fruits is giving them dignity, purpose, and a chance to dream big dreams for their futures.

Crystal says, “My perfect day and life goal would be to save all the animals that are hurt and abused.”  

Thanks to her employment at Peaceful Fruits, the confidence she’s gained and the skills she’s learned, Crystal Doody is a Rainforest Rescuer and the animal rights crusader she was created to be.

Janis Gioia is a special education teacher who specializes in writing Success Stories for organizations supporting children and adults with disabilities and mental health challenges.  Let her emotional, inspirational and evocative storytelling bring your message to life.         
Contact her at janisgioia@outlook.com.