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Rejected from job after job, this baker with Down syndrome opened her own shop instead.

'Never give up. Don't let people make you sad or feel rejected. Stay motivated and follow your dreams.'

Rejected from job after job, this baker with Down syndrome opened her own shop instead.

Ever since she was 15 years old, Collette Divitto has been baking up a storm in her family's kitchen.

"I always baked after school and on the weekends," explains Divitto in an email. "I loved baking for my family for holidays."

Photo via Collettey's Cookies/Facebook, used with permission.


She quickly realized she wanted to make a career out of her passion for baking, and when she was 22, she started applying to jobs in Boston.

To each interview, she'd bring samples of the cookies that her family and friends had raved about. Unfortunately, none of the places that interviewed her offered her a job; for all her hard work, Divitto mostly saw a lot of doors being closed in her face.

"Many people who interviewed me for jobs said I was really nice but not a good fit for them," writes Divitto. "It was really hurtful and I felt rejected a lot."

While being turned down for jobs isn't unusual for a lot of young people, Divitto wondered if — in her case — she wasn't getting offered jobs because she has Down syndrome.

While the rejection was disheartening, it did not dissuade her from following her dreams. She rolled up her sleeves and got to work.

With the help of her mom and sister, Divitto started her own cookie company called Collettey's. They soon received their first order for her famous cookies (chocolate chip with cinnamon and other secret ingredients) from a grocery store in Boston called Golden Goose Market.

Photo via Collettey's Cookies/Facebook, used with permission.

Divitto began making 100 cookies a week for the Golden Goose, then — thanks to coverage by CBS News — orders began pouring in from all over the country. Today, Divitto is 26 and by mid-December had posted that Collettey's is up to 10,000 orders to be filled.

"My biggest success so far is how big my company is growing, which means I can start hiring people with and without disabilities," Divitto says.

Photo via Collettey's Cookies/Facebook, used with permission.

Right now, Collettey's staff consists of Divitto, her mom, and her sister as well as some amazing volunteers from Golden Goose Market who help bake and ship all the cookies. As the business grows, she'll need more staff very soon.

According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report, 10.7% of people with a disability who are actively looking for work were unemployed in 2015. That's twice the unemployment rate of people without a disability. In light of those figures, Divitto plans to offer as many job opportunities to people in the the disabled community as she can.

Divitto hopes her accomplishments inspire others to pursue their dreams any way they can, even if it means taking a nontraditional route.

Photo via Collettey's Cookies/Facebook, used with permission.

"I never raised her looking at her as if she had limitations," Divitto's mom, Rosemary Alfredo, told ABC News. "I just said, 'We all have them. We all have things we're good at, and we all have things we’re not good at.' You can call them disabilities. We all have strengths and we all have weaknesses. We don't focus on that."

Or, as Divitto says: "Never give up. Don't let people make you sad or feel rejected. Stay motivated and follow your dreams."

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Image is a representation of the grandfather, not the anonymous subject of the story.

Eight years a go, a grandfather in Michigan wrote a powerful letter to his daughter after she kicked out her son out of the house for being gay. It's so perfectly written that it crops up on social media every so often.

The letter is beautiful because it's written by a man who may not be with the times, but his heart is in the right place.

It first appeared on the Facebook page FCKH8 and a representative told Gawker that the letter was given to them by Chad, the 16-year-old boy referenced in the letter.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."