In April, a new business opened up in downtown Schenectady that hired employees with special needs, which includes autism and other developmental disabilities. That business is Puzzles Bakery & Cafe’, which is located at 515 State Street.

The mission statement on their website says a lot about them - "Puzzles Bakery & Café is committed to improving the livelihood of individuals, families, and communities affected by autism spectrum disorders. Individuals with developmental disabilities have the right to work in integrated settings with non-disabled colleagues, be afforded the same wages, and contribute to society in a meaningful way. Puzzles Bakery & Café will provide adults with disabilities opportunities for personal growth, as well as a source of income, social interaction, and a sense of purpose".

Sara Mae Hickey is the young lady that created Puzzles Bakery & Cafe’. It’s something that she was working on for a few years. Puzzles finally had their grand opening on April 2, which happens to be World Autism Awareness Day.

Sara’s sister Emily, who has autism, was one of the major inspirations to create Puzzles. She told me that Emily is on the lower functioning end of the autism spectrum, and requires a lot of care. People with special needs don’t have a lot of opportunities, especially when they turn 21-year-old. Sara knew that she wanted to help people with special needs, and she came up with a creative solution.

Sara Mae Hickey and Bro. Lou Roberts (Photo by Flounder/WGNA)

I had the pleasure of talking with Sara about Puzzles. She’s my guest this week on our show, Capital Region Sunday, which will air Sunday, July 5 between 6:00 a.m and 6:10 a.m. on 107.7 WGNA.

They do have a very good menu. I personally know that they have excellent chocolate chip cookies because Sara brought one for me when she came into the station for the show.