By: Sharon Aron Baron
As part of the annual observance of World Autism Awareness Day, the co-founder of Rising Tide Carwash in Parkland was invited to the United Nations Headquarters in New York for the 2nd Annual Autism Advantage Foundation Luncheon.
Thomas D’Eri, co-founder and chief operating officer of Rising Tide Car Wash, a groundbreaking social enterprise whose primary mission is to employ adults with autism, participated in the invitation-only event on April 5.
D’Eri said he was honored to once again be a part of this esteemed group of leaders in autism awareness from around the world. “Since my father, John D’Eri, and I launched Rising Tide in 2013, we have reached out to our community, the U.S., and the world to share the incredible capabilities that individuals with autism have. Autism is a valuable diversity, as opposed to a disability that requires sympathy.”
This was the second year that D’Eri has participated in the event, which serves as a leadership forum for a discussion on the theme of “Return on Investment” and on issues related to scaling talent and career development for people with autism. The purpose of the luncheon was to promote employment of persons with autism globally, in support of Article 27 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, on Work and Employment, which recognizes the right of persons with disabilities to work on an equal basis with others, and to a labor market and work environment that is open, inclusive and accessible. The inaugural luncheon in 2017 gathered 168 leaders representing 28 employers and 20 countries.
The Autism Advantage Luncheon was organized by the United Nations Department of Public Information , in collaboration with Specialisterne Foundation. It was co-sponsored by a number of permanent missions, and organized with the support of Google, Microsoft, and JPMChase.
Rising Tide, car wash has locations in Parkland and Margate. It is one of the largest employers of people with autism in the U.S. Along with his father, Thomas created the business to develop a scalable solution to employing individuals with autism. They were inspired to do this by watching John’s son and Thomas’ brother Andrew, a vibrant young man with autism, struggle to find his place in the world.
The goal of Rising Tide is to give more young adults with autism opportunities to realize their capabilities, gain confidence, make friends, gain financial independence, and have a place to call their own.