Rochester Local

A Meet-Cute with The Yellow Monkey

Yellow MonkeyIn a movie when two characters meet in a cute way, they call it a meet-cute (or so I’ve heard). I had a similar such introduction to the owner of The Yellow Monkey. I was in search of a desk to use for my new in-home office. When I found one on Facebook Marketplace, I messaged the owner. While she could not meet me at a time that worked best for me, her neighbor could. Enter Cindy, the owner of The Yellow Monkey.

When I stopped to pick up the desk, Cindy and I had a nice conversation including a discussion about a recent project I had just finished. I had used chalk paint to dye two fabric living room chairs. Coincidentally, she had also just finished chalk painting an arm chair. We shared some similar frustrations and she made the helpful suggestion that I apply a coat of wax to seal the fabric. “I even have some in stock at the store. Feel free to stop by on Saturday for our open house!” she said, as she passed along one of her business cards.

A few days later I stopped by to see the cute little shop on 7th St in NW Rochester.  It had all kinds of goodies from knick-knacks to upcycled furniture in cute colors, home décor, wall hangings, some consignment canned goods, chalk paint, and (most importantly to me) furniture wax. But what was even cooler was their mission: ‘A place for young adults with disabilities to work and learn new skills.’

I quickly learned that this store is actually a nonprofit run completely by volunteers.  Cindy works with Ability Building Community (ABC), PossAbilities, a few groups homes and the Rochester Academy of Independent Living (RAIL) through Rochester Public Schools. She estimated that she has roughly 20-25 students that come through her store every week. They perform tasks such as working at the cash register, cleaning, making small craft projects that are sold in the shop, and even stuffing bags for another nonprofit called Hawthorne Helps.

It turns out that this mission is very personal to Cindy. She started The Yellow Monkey five years ago when her son, Nicholas, needed a place to learn some skills. He has autism and attended RAIL after finishing high school. But even after completing more extensive training in independent living, there weren’t many options for him when it came to work. So Cindy started The Yellow Monkey and named it for him.

When asked about her long-term goals for The Yellow Monkey, Cindy simply said, “It makes me happy when [people with disabilities] can come here and be happy.”  So, if you are looking for a really cool nonprofit in town to find some unique furniture, home décor, chalk paint, knickknacks, or specialty canned goods – check out The Yellow Monkey! Here is their Facebook page that has more details and updated hours: The Yellow Monkey.

PS: Cindy, thanks for the desk and the finishing wax!

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