Valerie Herskowitz has not only worked as a speech pathologist for nearly 40 years, founded Dimensions Therapy Center, and taught courses on autism at Nova Southeastern University; she is also a parent to an adult son with severe autism.
She knows the value of making sure adults with special needs have as many opportunities for education and development as possible. She's worked tirelessly to bring services, therapies, and activities to children and adults with autism and other developmental disabilities.
Now, she's combining her passion for service and her love of pastries in a sweet new direction with the Chocolate Spectrum Boutique and Academy, opening at the end of June.
Located in Jupiter, the store will offer artisan chocolates, pastries, beverages, and coffees in its cocoa-focused cafe. And all the items are handmade by adults with autism and other special needs.
“This is a dream come true,” said Herskowitz. “The Chocolate Spectrum began as an online-only model, but we have been blessed with such amazing demand for our products, it just made sense for us to open a retail store.”
While online ordering is still available, the brick and mortar shop will allow locals to come in and see for themselves what special-needs adults are capable of creating.
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And the heart of the larger cause will continue with Chocolate Spectrum Academy, a 12-month vocational training for adults with developmental disabilities. Through the yearlong Chocolate, Pastry, Barista and Restaurant Services program, students learn the ins and outs of running a bakery, including chocolate production, baking, and specialty beverage prep. Graduates will be eligible for apprenticeship and even possible employment at the Chocolate Spectrum.
Additionally, the shop will offer ongoing events and classes to the general public; plans include weekly chocolate-making classes for both adults and children, those with special needs and without.
The grand opening event is from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on June 28 with plenty of Independence Day-inspired pastries and other goods to be enjoyed.
The Chocolate Spectrum will be located at 6725 W. Indiantown Road, Suite 38, Jupiter. Hours will be 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Call 954-980-0134, or visit thechocolatespectrum.com.