Princeton becomes a new home for Vaseful Flower and Gifts

Brian M. Hughes (center), Mercer County Executive, cuts the ribbon during the Vaseful Flower and Gifts shop opening ceremony on June 5 at 305 Witherspoon Street in Princeton.
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Brian M. Hughes (center), Mercer County Executive, cuts the ribbon during the Vaseful Flower and Gifts shop opening ceremony on June 5 at 305 Witherspoon Street in Princeton.

After more than two years of renovations, a second Vaseful Flower and Gifts shop has opened up for business to local residents.

This new shop is located in Princeton on 305 Witherspoon Street and employs people with disabilities.

“This shop will be a huge success because people with disabilities need jobs. They need employment in the community and this is a way to teach them on how they can have a job and work,” said Robert Stack, President and CEO of Community Options. “We are very excited about this second shop.”

According to Community Options officials, the second shop will continue by the same idea as the first Vaseful shop in Edison where employees of all abilities work side by side.

The Vaseful shops are part of non-profit Community Options mission to provide employment opportunities for the those they serve with disabilities.

Stack reported that it took more than two years to complete the second shop because of all of the permitting, issues and fundraising the organization needed to do.

“We are just glad we did this. The Princeton people are very kind and very benevolent. I know one thing for sure they will need flowers,” he said. “I hope this is the place they come and give people with disabilities the dignity and the jobs that they need by buying their flowers.”

The opening ceremony on June 5 drew several politicians and officials.

In attendance were state Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem). Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert and Assemblyman Roy Freiman (D-Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Somerset).

“This means the world to me because it is very personal for me. I have a daughter that was born with down syndrome and that was my motivation to get involved in politics. People have to navigate and fight for people with disabilities,” Sweeney announced. “We are now getting to the point where people recognize the value of people with disabilities. They are capable of being employed, working hard and being very efficient. We have just had the problem of getting beyond the disability. Once you get beyond the disability there is a person and that person is no different then you and I.”

He said his daughter is an example of someone living with a disability who is enjoying life.

“She is working and is living a life. My daughter is not alone. There are many people with a disability who have the ability to be productive and earn,” Sweeney said. “This organization has a shop in northern New Jersey, now in central New Jersey and we would like to have one in southern Jersey. Every opportunity we have to increase employment opportunities we need to do that. The government also has to do a better job of hiring people with disabilities.”

He said he hopes people see the value of a person with disabilities as the same as a person who is not disabled.

“Community Options is an organization that helps people do that,” Sweeney said.

The first Vaseful Flower and Gift shop began in New Brunswick in 1999, the original location has since been moved to Edison.

“The number of people we employ will be increasing by almost 30 people because of this second shop. This is significant not only for us but for the community as a whole,” said Phil Lian, Chairman of Community Options Enterprises.

He said even with a number of trials and tribulations to get the shop up and running the organization was able to get through it, especially when it came to the zoning rules in Princeton.

“I think people in the community are going to enjoy this new Vaseful shop. The product is just incredible. We have been delivering to this community from our shop in Edison, but is difficult sometimes because of the distance,” Lian said. “Having a shop local I think the community will appreciate that. I just think the community will enjoy everything this shop has to offer.”

For more information about Vaseful in Princeton, visit www.vasefulprinceton.com.