Autism: Jake Wood ‘proof’ Handiwork Life teaches independence and skills

Last week, The Handiwork Life, the home for manual skills training across all areas of disability, held their 3rd annual Rise to the Occasion Awards Gala and auction. 100 guests enjoyed a night of celebration, followed by a gourmet dinner in celebration of the extraordinary achievements of the graduates of their education and training programs. The impressive event attracted clients, staff, trustees, community members and key funders such as Facebook, Head Start. The large turnout made it obvious that people everywhere see the power of the Handiwork Life model of training people to enter the workforce and become successful independent, self-sustaining, job seekers.

About Jake

Jake Wood has autism spectrum disorder, and he was diagnosed at the age of six.

At the age of 12, Jake qualified for leadership roles through the BSDP Foundation. It was at this point that he decided to form his own nonprofit organization, The Handiwork Life, and learn skills for self-employment, with a focus on vocational work such as carpentry, fabricating metalwork and equipment repair.

In early 2006, Jake transitioned his non-profit into a full-time employment program, creating customized work spaces to help people with disabilities live independently.

Within a year, Jake had acquired funding from Agora Capital for this new and unique program. To date, Jake’s businesses have saved individuals with disabilities in California thousands of dollars in life expenses, including rent, transportation, equipment, and clothing.

Jake Wood was named 2014’s Outstanding Young Leader.

Prior to being awarded the Outstanding Young Leader award, Jake Wood founded his own “business” in just six months using funds from winning the Grace Awards at Business in the Schools. Jake created the Work Tech program, a school-based, two-month STEM, vocational training program where workers learn how to operate complex machinery and computerized equipment with each individual client coming with an approved, structured equipment list.

Jake’s work with the Handiwork Life led to a contract with TLC Furniture to transport the workers to and from work. Once working in the local economy, Handiwork Life clients transitioned to employment by completing time consuming tasks, a process which allowed Jake’s students to earn an honest living and create a community through small business.

In 2012, Jake came face to face with his own great tragedy – his 22-year-old sister Cassidy was killed in a car accident. The following year Jake founded Jakewood Inc. a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that he uses to promote literacy by helping individuals in Bristol, CT transition into the workforce. The group strives to provide quality equipment and materials at competitive prices to local businesses, and to train individuals on the latest up-to-date software in various IT-related fields.

This past June, Jake Wood joined the NGO Board of Governors for the Handiwork Life. Jake Wood now resides in South Carolina but he continues to work with his co-founders, Clay Reynolds and Nathan Gill, by helping to grow the organization’s portfolio of charities.

Jake Wood, Jakewood CEO, is committed to assisting individuals with disabilities to live independently. For more information, visit

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