A Real Holiday PEP Talk

How the power and drive of a local community organization resulted in an LTR with the URBN home offices…

“I worked with the PEP team a few months ago.

About 20 wonderful men and women from that program assisted us in sizing and packing

12,000 donations for Girls Inc. Sooo much good karma moving around.

The PEP team are superstars!!!” – Julie, FP


For Philly-based Programs Employing People (PEP), stories like these are the norm, not the exception, and hold testament as to how the nonprofit to employ individuals with intellectual disAbilities is celebrating a 50th anniversary this year. Here, Director of Employment Services, Beth Ryan, graciously shares a bit about this important organization and their ongoing affiliation with the brands at URBN.


“We are proud of the growth PEP has achieved in the past five decades, having gone from serving a small group of families attending summer camp in 1969 to serving over 300 individuals a year, in programs to improve their overall independence in the community.

“And improving independence is exactly the experience that Free People affords our individuals — by giving them an opportunity to experience paid work. PEP was introduced to the folks at Free People through their sister brand, Anthropologie. Anthro had first reached out to PEP in an effort to partner with a charitable organization in the community. They have since worked with PEP’s art program for the last several years and started employing our individuals to execute their ‘Gift with Purchase Program.’ Free People helped us to expand that partnership over a year ago.

“We contribute our time to that program several times a year. FP commissions a team of PEP individuals to assist with collating, packing and preparing Gift Bags for shipment to their district stores. Our team arrives at FP headquarters ready for a good day of work. They enjoy interacting with Free People employees during sessions that may see them assemble as many as 1,000 bags a day. (Editor’s note: Our employees have nothing but smiles and wonderful feedback about the PEP team, as well!)

“If you ask any one of our individuals how they feel about going to Free People, they will tell you they love participating on this job because they are proud of the work they do there and love earning a paycheck. And they always feel welcome and appreciated by its staff.  

“PEP welcomes help in many forms. We are always in need of volunteers to share their time and expertise in supporting our programs. In addition, donations to help support our programs are always welcome. Providing opportunities for work experiences such as the Gift with Purchase Program, or giving consideration to one of our employment candidates to fill a staffing need, is a win-win situation.”


PEP’s mantra reads, “Strengthening Relationships in the Community.” 

The opportunity to empower members of our community to succeed at the work they choose, in the area they choose, with hopes that they may one day work free of a job coach… Surely there isn’t a reward much greater.

Free People is humbled to be part of the PEP story and look forward to helping the team write many new chapters. Thank you, Beth, for your time and dedication.



0 0 vote
Article Rating
Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Keep doing great things, you guys! ❤️❤️

Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

4 years ago

We truly appreciate and enjoy our relationship with all the wonderful people at the URBN Brands. Looking forward to many more exciting projects together.