We had the good fortune of connecting with Michelle Cait and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Michelle, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
At ShemeshFarms we believe in providing work opportunities for young adults with special needs and diverse abilities that suit their strengths, interests, and abilities. We elevate our business by including everyone on our team in the process and development of our social enterprise. Our business meetings offer a space for everyone to contribute regardless of members mode of expression. Some are verbal, others communicate through technology, or through facial expressions. Regardless, everyone has the opportunity to share and contribute. Another important factor behind the success of our brand and social enterprise is our products are top notch. We curate our salt and herb blends on site, and use fresh organic herbs straight from our on site herb farm/garden. We pride ourselves in providing tasty, unique and delicious herb and salt blend combinations. Our revenue goes straight back into our enterprise so we can hire more young adults with special needs and diverse abilities making us a true social enterprise.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My background is in Art Therapy, and I practiced as an Art Therapist for many years prior to getting married and raising my family. While raising our three kids, I stopped working and dedicated all of my time to my family. As the kids got older, it was really important for me to get back in the work force and contribute in a meaningful way. How was I to do this after not working for almost 15 years? I began by volunteering my time in environments that I was interested in, and then wherever I went I made sure to speak up and let people know that I was looking for meaningful work. Sure enough, at one of my kids soccer games I met the Executive Director of Shalom Institute Rabbi Bill Kaplan ( an old friend of mine) and he took a chance on me and invited me to tour the Institute up in Malibu and then he hired me as their Alumni Director part time, two years after, Rabbi Bill gave me another opportunity as Director of ShemeshFarms and build the ShemeshFarms enterprise from scratch. It’s been an honor to work with our amazing partners at Creative Steps Day Program in Culver City, our partners at Malibu Jewish Center & Synagogue in Malibu where we were welcomed after our entire site was devastated by the Woolsey Fire in 2018, and our partners at The Etta organization to all collaborate together in order to provide a dynamic working community for young adults with diverse abilities. I’ve been so lucky to have this opportunity in the second half of my life.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would for sure take them to Malibu and give them a tour of ShemeshFarms! I’m a big fan of everything that Malibu has to offer. I’d take them surfing down at Surfrider next to The Malibu Pier, and we’d have lunch on the pier at Malibu Farm Cafe. For a lovely sip of wine after a beach day, I’d take them to Spruzzos Restaurant, it’s a relaxed atmosphere with great views of Point Dume and Zuma beach.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Shalom Institute is a Camp and Retreat center in Malibu, Ca. ShemeshFarms is an initiative of Shalom Institute. Shalom Institute is an inclusive organization that promotes nature and stewardship. ShemeshFarms is able to exist and thrive with the support by a generous grant from the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles as well as the generosity from the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles along with funding from Erwin Rautenberg Foundation, The Diane and Guilford Glazer Philanthropies, Hillside Memorial Park and Mortuary, and from individual donors and sales.
Website: shemeshfarms.com and shalominstitute.com
Image credits do not apply