ELBURN, Ill. — For nearly two decades, Jaimie Valentini worked as a special education teacher. She loved the work, but often worried about opportunities for her students once they transitioned into adulthood.

Two years ago, she put that calling into action.

“Plant a seed, watch it grow,” a phrase Jaimie Valentini embodies every day.

“In my brain it was always this very easy fix to a big problem we had in our community,” Jaimie Valentini, the founder of the Rising Lights Project said.

Jamie started the non-profit “Rising Lights Project” two years ago. A place where young adults of all abilities could harvest their collective talents to grow something bountiful and beautiful.

The rising gardeners grow, dry, pack, and then sell their herb infused creations at farmer’s markets throughout Geneva and Batavia.

Right now, the gardeners rely on artificial lights, but come spring, the office moves outdoors.

“It’s trickling down from this little garden club that I heard of,” Loreen Niforatos said. “To it’s not just a garden club, it’s a game changer cause she has really affected our lives”

Not everyone was sold at first, but the program has turned even the skeptic into one of the most enthusiastic gardeners.

Sowing purpose and pride into these young adults who have aged out of other programs.

“We’re much more than a day program,” Valentini said. “We really are a movement in educating our community on disability and really shining a light on all the gifts our adults have.”

Remarkable Woman, Jaimie Valentini is planting the seeds of change in a community and the lives of those just waiting for enough light to full blossom.

To learn more about the Rising Lights Project, click here.

Watch Jaimie Valentini’s full Remarkable Women feature in the video player above.

March is Women’s History Month and Nexstar and WGN are recognizing the great contributions women have made in our community. Throughout the month, four finalists for the 2023 Woman of the Year award will be highlighted.