LEE COUNTY, Fla. - A Cape Coral church is making a big impact on the community, by farming on a very small scale. Grace Church is using worm farms to teach life skills to special needs students.
Wink News reporter Kristen Skovira shows us how the squirmy creatures are shaping lives. Digging and sifting, these special needs students are turning thousands of red wigglers and night crawlers into cash.
"This is actually one of the most fun things I've ever done!" said student Jason Scheller.
The exceptional entrepreneurs work out of Grace Community Center in North Fort Myers, funded by a $30,000 grant from the Southwest Florida Community Foundation.
"The best thing we can do for somebody is to give them a job. It gives them dignity. It gives people a purpose to get up everyday," said Pastor Wes Olds.
Scheller takes the creepy crawlers out of plastic bins and then helps turn them into worm castings and worm tea, two organic products sought by gardeners and small businesses.
"The most important thing is to make sure they take very good care of them," said Scheller.
The program is the brain child of former Lee County Special Education teacher Betty Henderson.
"It just kinda fits with these guys because it's easy but at the same time it's challenging enough for them," Henderson.
Henderson says worm farming helps the developmentally disabled high school students learn critical job skills necessary for life after graduation.
"They're learning employable skills, they are learning to get along with one another," she said.
"I like my co-workers and I like to hang out with those guys," said student Tito Concepcion.
And although the program is still small, church administrators believe this is just the beginning of a much larger future.
"God uses, small things and makes them into more then we ever asked or imagined and that's what we believe he is doing with this ministry, with these students," said Pastor Olds.
The program is looking for more volunteers to help with the worm farms. And say other out-of-state churches have also expressed interest in this business model and hope to adopt it for the special needs students in their area.
For more information about the Grace Church worm farm or to help the program:
Call (239) 574-7161