Recently, I saw our latest merch campaign on the corner of the (other, co-President of Brand Fuel) Danny’s desk. I was blown away by the sharpness of the brightly colored mixed glasses and its fantastic backstory. The funny introspective laser-engraved message focuses on appreciating the present:

“Why limit happy to an hour?”

The fact that these unique glasses are made and upcycled from diverted wine bottles provides a unique texture that is further enhanced by the natural ridge at the bottom of glasses for separating ice. These are fully customizable, can be engraved, and are a part of our friends at Refresh Glass’s Mission to Rescue 10 Million Bottles!

After inquiring a little bit more about the campaign, I also learned we intentionally chose to work with a packing partner called EPI-HAB Phoenix, Inc. EPI-HAB is a 65-year-old nonprofit with a mission to “provide meaningful employment for individuals with epilepsy and other disabilities by performing valued work for area business in a safe and enjoyable environment.”

Tony Barlow, President, is the father of an adult with disabilities. He brings a perspective of understanding, empathy, and passion to help others achieve their potential. This aligns with EPI-HAB’s values: Leading by example and seeing the ability in others allows him to inspire, motivate and help people. No doubt his collaborative spirit, drive to succeed and ability to serve others is essential for the next chapter of EPI-HAB’s growth and evolution.

Notable Stats:

  • EPI-HAB is short for Epilepsy Habilitation.
  • It has been around for 65 Years.
  • They employ 47 amazing people, 70% of which are disabled. Disabilities range from blind, and deaf, to neuro-diverse disabilities and even individuals with prosthetic limbs.

How EPI-HAB serves the disabled community:

  • Hiring people with disabilities that may have never worked before or have not been successful in keeping a job.
  • EPIHAB is an approved job site that also provides training for two high schools with the goal of a job offer when they graduate.
  • Barrow’s Neurological Institute and Swan Rehabilitation serve many people recovering from traumatic brain injuries. They spend months in a rehab facility and then move to an approved rehab site, like EPI-HAB. They volunteer 8-12 hours a week and perform meaningful work with a state-approved job coach accompanying them. This is their therapy and path to recovery.
  • EPI-HAB is an approved work location for 10-12 vocational rehabilitation agencies through The AZ Department of Disabilities and AZ Voc Rehab programs. The Client volunteers 8-12 hours a week at Epihab and uses Epihab as a job training site, with the goal of eventually placing the client in a job. Clients perform meaningful work with a state-approved job coach accompanying them. This is their on-the-job training to help clients develop and become hirable at Epihab or another location.
  • The State will pay the Voc Rehab agency $5,000 per client that is hired at end of the program.
    • Tony’s vision is to become certified as an agency and cut out the middleman within a year.

“Every day I see a miracle.”


  • What keeps Tony coming through the doors each day? “Every day I see a miracle.
    • “For example, I’ll see a woman struggling to close her finger around a pen, and be able to write the next week.”
  • “We employ a gentleman who is ~6’6”. He is on the autistic spectrum. When he hears The Star-Spangled Banner at noon every day on the radio, he stands and sings no matter what is going on. We added an American flag to the warehouse and now, all of our employees stand with him, even the ones that don’t speak English.”
  • “We employ a woman that is recovering from a traumatic car accident who struggles with walking. This past Christmas party, everyone started doing the Cupid Shuffle. The woman’s mom was with her at the party and said she was going to the dance floor, but her mom warned it was unsafe. However, her physical therapist said to let her try anyway and she ended up breaking it down on the dance floor. Now everyone dances with her!”
  • “When taking on the company’s first blind individual, five employees argued over who was helping the new employee on his first day!”
Some of the amazing Epihab team. Tony is rocking glasses and a blue polo in the center.

“As a Brand Fuel team member who has struggled with epilepsy myself, …

…seeing this campaign and the choices our company made to support a nonprofit was processed with a huge smile that would have made Chuck E. Cheese grimace. Brand Fuel is actively improving our community, and this is not a new experience or realization. But this conscious decision felt truly different and very personal for me. Even though I currently have “controlled” epilepsy, I have still challenges with my disability when it comes to labor and basic requirements like transportation (note: Brand Fuel is always understanding of my individual needs; serendipitously, I live within walking distance).

It is truly an inspiration for an organization like EPI-HAB to provide a safe environment for individuals with epilepsy to make a living, to be a place to find friends, grow, and create work with a sense of purpose. The reason EPI-HAB has been successful since 1958 is that they focus not on the disability of their workers, but the abilities – a lesson that I believe can be extrapolated and applied to many relationships we find ourselves in.  Knowing that Brand Fuel is willing to invest and do the extra effort to find partners like EPI-HAB and our friends at Gabi’s Pals reminds me exactly why I want to walk through Brand Fuel’s office doors every day.

Danny Mahoney, Online Services Coordinator