Columbia, SC

DDSN Celebrates National Disability Employment Awareness Month: Clarence Raiford


(Sponsored Content) DDSN is featuring employment success stories during October National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Columbia, South Carolina - In 2020, Clarence’s grandmother, who is a Master Gardner, bought him a planter. The planter was filled with blue salvia, red geraniums, and later white pansies. Clarence chose the colors based on the colors of his favorite football team, the Patriots. This planter was the catalyst for Clarence’s interest in gardening as well as Happy Souls Heirloom Gardening.

“My Mom and grandmother encouraged me to plant flowers that reflected my interest in sports teams. This included the colors of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and other teams. As I matched my love of sports with gardening my love of plants grew too, I began to read about how to care for various plants and what type of fertilizer and watering is required. With time, I began working with my mom in the greenhouse, planting seeds in our compost, using natural fertilizers (seaweed), and faithfully watering to get the best possible flowers or produce. I also receive support from Wade Culcleasure, Employment Specialist from Life Connections, my mom and grandmother.” Clarence explained. “My favorite part of gardening is picking the ripe vegetables and talking with the customers. Our business is Happy Souls Heirloom Nursey. Most of the business comes from social media, family, and friends. My sister is developing a website for me too.”
Clarence Raiford at Happy Souls Heirloom NurseyCourtesy of Clarence Raiford

“Through some grants, a collaboration with the city and my mom’s garden club, The Outside of Eden Garden League, my mom and I do a program called Bucket Gardens.” Clarence said, "We teach children how to plant and care for plants in a bucket. Sometimes they don’t have much room for their own garden, so this gives them the chance to learn about plants. They also get a lunch and coloring book."

Clarence's favorite part about working is, “I also like earning money! It’s awesome. I like to save my money and hold on to it until I find something I want, or I may want to buy something for one of my friends.”

Clarenence's advice for someone wanting to start their own business is, “Do not forget to plant and water seeds. Do not neglect your business and spend the time you need to learn your business.”

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I am a journalist with 30+ years of experience working in the fields of natural resources, non-profit, education, research and disabilities and special needs. I will be reporting about the events that affect the disabled and special needs community.

Columbia, SC

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