“Presume competence”: Forsyth-based nonprofit creating jobs for adults with special needs

FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Organizational skills, repetitive tasks and making sure everything is done perfectly.

These are a few qualities that make Brett, Luke and Daniel ideal basketeers.

The young men, all on the autism spectrum, are thriving in their impactful new roles.

Three Basketeers is based in Forsyth County, and already planning to move into a larger space for the growing project.

Sandra Tanner, a special education teacher with nearly 30 years of experience in the classroom, says the tasks are ideal for the men.

“These people aren’t going to work a 9 to 5,” said Sandra Tanner, one of the founders of 3 Basketeers said.

Tanner is using her experience in the Fulton County classroom to help young people with development disabilities in her Forsyth community.

She and a few parents brainstormed and came up with the idea to start a gift basket business, called Three Basketeers, as a way to give three young men meaningful employment.

“Everybody wants to work. Everybody wants to feel like they’re making a contribution, and our kids do too,” said Sue Swanson, Brett’s mother and CEO of Three Basketeers.

Now, the group spends much of its time putting together the handmade baskets, each carefully crafted in their workspace.

“This gives them time and space to show their abilities,” Tanner said.

The products are personal. Baskets include designs and handmade items from the basketeers, or partner organizations that employ adults with special needs.

You can choose from the “Home, Sweet Home,” “Happy Birthday,” or grief care basket, which was inspired by the sudden passing of Brett’s dad in 2018.

The basket includes a journal with Brett’s heart wreath design.

Each item sold is a gift in return.

“My mission is to employ every adult with a developmental disability in Forsyth County and North Fulton who wants a job,” Swanson said. “Presume competence. Just because somebody can’t speak does not mean that they are not thinking and understanding everything that’s going on.”

The baskets are filled with items handmade by the basketeers or one of their partners, which also employ people with special needs.

You can visit the Three Basketeers’ website to buy a basket, gift or donate to help them continue to grow.