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Down Syndrome Woman Overcomes Discrimination in the Sweetest of Ways

01-24-2017

A young Boston woman refused to become discouraged even after being repeatedly rejected because of her disability.  As it turns out, all that disappointment led to a much better outcome for her and people like her. 

Twenty-six-year-old Collette Divitto was born with Down syndrome, a genetic condition in which a person has an extra chromosome and, as a result, has some mental and physical disabilities.  Over the years, Divitto cultivated her love of baking to the point where she was getting the attention of friends and relatives.  Her specialty was her "amazing" chocolate chip cookie dipped in cinnamon.

"We kept telling her, 'This is a really good cookie. You could sell this!''' her mother, Rosemary Alfredo, told WBZ-TV.

Divitto wanted to make money and applied for several jobs.  Although potential employers were kind, she was told over and over again that she "wasn't the right fit."

"It's very upsetting to me," Divitto said, "It's very hard to find a paying job for people like me who have special needs."

Divitto decided if she wasn't going to get hired, she'd have to become self-employed. That was the beginning of her cookie business, which she named "Colletteys." 

"She's never accepted her disability," her mom said. "She's kind of stepped into this role of trying to inspire and motivate other people."

Divitto created a website, made business cards, bought ingredients, and learned how to write invoices. She was already taking online orders and making the cookies in her North End apartment.  Then when millions of people saw her featured on WBZ-TV, her business really took off.  

Right away she received orders for 25,000 cookies from customers across America.  Closer to home, Boston's Golden Goose Grocery committed to selling "Collettey's" cookies and even allowed Divitto to use their ovens, kitchen space and staff to help with her exploding business.

"It's all about her at this point," manager Jesse Powers said. "It's not about the Golden Goose. It's about helping Collette grow her business and her dreams."

Divitto is thrilled about what's happening.

"I haven't slept at all," she joked. "I am really amazed at the support for my company and my cookies."

Her mother is too. "It's been so uplifting to see the love and compassion across the world," Alfredo said.

In an effort to prove the worth of people with disabilities, Divitto is dreaming big.  She plans to open production facilities across the country and hired thousands of people with disabilities.  She says nearly eight in 10 people with disabilities are unable to find work. She is planning to use the profits from her cookies sales as well donations from a Go Fund Me page to finance the expansion. 

Related Stories: 
"Down Syndrome Child a Gift in Unexpected Wrapping"
"Toddler With Down Syndrome Landing Major Modeling Jobs"
"'I'm Just Really Sad' Mother Confronts Doctor Who Advised Her to Abort Down Syndrome Baby"

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