Gift Basket Company Helping Mental Health Patients Learn Job Skills

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Holding a job is one of the best ways to regain independence.

Under a new program, Southwest Behavioral Health of Payson clients are learning just that and creating beautiful gift baskets.

Last year, Delicious Arizona was formed as a way to provide job training for SBH clients.

The company makes high-end gift baskets for hotels, restaurants, casinos and local professionals.

“Providing training and support to people who want to take care of themselves is very rewarding, because they learn to be a responsible employee, hold down a job, and learn to enjoy a life of independence,” said Nanci Stone, vice president of SBH.

The concept of Delicious Arizona became a reality when Cenpatico invited the nonprofit, Tucson-based Linkages to create a business that would help train and employ mental health consumers while generating enough revenues to be self-supporting.

Linkages owner Ethan Orr, collaborated with SBH Payson employee Andy Barnett and supervisor Steven Stewart to create Delicious Arizona.

Mental health clients at SBH are employed by Delicious Arizona and trained to work in sales or assembly of the baskets.

So far, Linkages has trained 15 salespeople and 20 basket makers.

“Through this fantastic program with Delicious Arizona, we are able to employ people year-round, while providing a necessity to the communities,” said Andy Barnett of SBH. “We think this will blossom beyond the Payson area.”

Materials for the baskets are purchased wholesale and inventoried at SBH until orders are placed.

Finished baskets are either delivered to customers or picked up.

Each sale by Delicious Arizona ensures that the people doing the work are compensated fairly and can regain their independence through meaningful work, according to program advocates.

Any profits go to SBH Payson to support future programs.

The baskets come in three varieties: ceramic, decorative metal and woven, and range in price from $10 up to $1,000.

A recent Beach Boys concert at the casino yielded a $300 order for a basket giveaway filled with beach supplies. Each basket is customizable.

The www.deliciousaz.com Web site is currently under development, so the best way to place orders or get more information is to call (520) 777-9233.

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