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A clean outlook on life

ROCHESTER, Minn.(FOX 47) - If you would have told Amy Brooks that she would be making soap for a living eighteen years ago, she would probably think your proverbial bubble has popped. Now, it's a different story.

“In 1996, my daughter was 6 months old and I was diagnosed with Leukemia and I needed a bone marrow transplant,” Brooks explained. “When I was in the hospital, I had undergone quite a bit of chemotherapy and radiation,” Brooks said. A friend had given me a bar of natural soap and said that it would help my skin feel better, because it was dry and itchy from all of the procedures I was going through,” said Brooks. That silly bar of soap actually did make it better; it was nice and softer than a run-of-the-mill bar and that intrigued me,” explained Brooks.

As Amy's health improved, she started to experiment and develop her own soap recipe. Before she knew it, she was being asked by family, friends and friends of friends for her new product. Recently, demand has gotten so large that she enlisted the help of the Ability Building Center.

“In 1956, there were three people that had the vision that folks with disabilities should be able to work if they so desired,” said business developer Doug Schommer. “That's when ABC was formed. We started with three employees, 11 participants. And that first year, we built 50,000 tom-toms; little Native American drums.  Today we service over 900 clients, with over 100 employees out of four locations,” Schommer explained.

According to Schommer, Amy's products are one of the projects that they constantly love to prepare and it brings a nice aroma to the assembly line. “Amy contacted us and said that she needed some help packaging her soap products,” said Schommer. “This is a 60,000 square foot building and we do a lot of packaging. So, it became a really great partnership,” Schommer explained. “It's such a fun job.”

“I've had an unusual experience, explained Brooks.” Not so many have been faced with the fact that at 35 you're not going to be around anymore. It just seems a little morbid.  Somehow, I was able to look past that,” said Brooks. She says “it's important to just take a breath and look at all the positives in your life, even though it may seem like there is very little. You just need to take a moment for yourself,” said Brooks. “Even if it's only the 15 minutes that you get in the shower in the morning. Just be one with who you are and be OK with that. And then, treat your body well. I think that would probably be the biggest message that I would have.”

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