Visitors to the Blue Umbrella gift shop have likely seen the work of Cynthia Williams, who makes creative and colorful greeting cards signed "Lil Dorothy" in memory of her mother.
What they may not know is that Cynthia is nonverbal and uses an iPad to communicate. But this does not hamper her independence. Cynthia loves to shop and eat out, and she says she's learned she can "do whatever I want to do and not hold back."
She even has a message for those who might doubt her.
"I would say that they are wrong because I can do many things and don’t let my disability hold me back," she says. "I’m smart, I’m funny, and love meeting new people."
Working from her office in the Integrity, Inc. building in Little Rock, Cynthia uses a greeting card computer software to select the graphics and wording for her pieces. She then prints them at home, and they're delivered to the Blue Umbrella, where they usually don't stay on the shelf for long.
Proceeds from sales go right back to Cynthia, so her creative expression turns into a little extra income. (That's how it works for all the artisans whose work is featured in the shop.)
Cynthia is always working toward her goal of selling more cards. Erin Skrodenis, Blue Umbrella store manager, first met Cynthia at the 2019 Division of Developmental Disabilities Services Fall Food & Craft Fair. Since then, whenever the pair meet, the topic quickly turns to Cynthia's creative work.
"She is always very positive and eager to show her latest artwork," Skrodenis says.
Cynthia considers card-making her secret talent. And she encourages others to pursue their passions, whatever they may be.
"I would tell them to find what makes them happy, learn what they are good at, and don’t let anything stop you from doing what you love," she says.