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Howdy Homemade Ice Cream creates equitable workspace for Hoosiers with disabilities

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Howdy Homemade Ice Cream serves up scoops of deliciousness while offering equitable workspaces for Hoosiers with disabilities.

This unique business model showcases the value of putting people first instead of their disabilities.

There’s a lot to love at Howdy Homemade Ice Cream, you can take your pick.

Bella Minetola, an employee, said, “My favorite has to be the cold brew and cookies. I love coffee, flavored ice cream.”

Minetola has worked here since the ice cream parlor opened near Mass Avenue at 370 N New Jersey in September last year. This shop has all the fixings, but they put in a little extra love in each scoop.

“It’s very accommodating to my needs. With being a person with autism, and I get very overstimulated,” Minetola said.

The Indianapolis Howdy Homemade Ice Cream location is the fifth in a chain that started in Dallas, Texas. The primary focus: employing people who have disabilities.

Co-owner Cindy Carter said, “We haven’t seen how far we can go. It’s just the tip of the iceberg.”

Carmela Tolver, co-owner and partner of Carter for 40 years, has worked to provide support services to people with developmental disabilities. This time they’re adding a lot of flavor to that work.

“The focus for a lot of people are on the disability instead of the person. So, if we could get the focus back on the person, it’s just a person. They happen to have a disability,” Carter said.

“What else can we do? And one of the things that we realized is just the employment opportunities are so limited,” Toler said. “Sometimes they get employment. It’s piece rate or they’re not paid what you and I would get. A fair wage.”

Carter and Tolver say adapting workspaces isn’t as hard as it may sound. They can adapt for those who can or can’t read and utilize adaptive handles and simple menus.

“Our taxes are included in the dollar amount that way they don’t have to worry about counting change back,” Tolver said.

They say the ice cream is an incentive, but there is joy in this work.

“When I heard about howdy, it just made me feel very welcome and support it because of all of the inclusivity,” Minetola said.

There are sorbet options, and in the next couple of weeks they’ll also have vegan options on the menu.