CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — A family from Augusta, West Virginia was recently featured in a documentary as they run their small business from home as they take care of their two sons with autism.
Grit & Grace: The Fight for the American Dream is a 30-minute documentary that can be watched on YouTube and focuses on three different stories of people from across the country as they pursue the American dream. One of these subjects, the Cook family, runs a small business out of their Augusta home and was able to attend the screening of the documentary to the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C.
The documentary was created by the U.S. House Select Committee for Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth, a bipartisan body that was formed to “develop solutions to the key economic issue of our time: the yawning prosperity gap between wealthy Americans and everyone else.”
Jeremy and Wendy Cook run an online business called Mystic Boys Antiques, an online retailer of unique glassware and antiques, particularly pieces of Fenton and Blenko glass because of their high quality.
“We have twin boys with autism, so us being able to get out and work normal jobs was extremely hard to do especially the older our boys got once they were out of school,” Jeremy said in an interview with 12 News.
When working on the documentary, Wendy described the whole experience as both exciting and a little bit stressful because she wanted to have all her ducks in a row with all the cameras coming into her house, but both of them felt strongly about shedding light on the struggles of everyday Americans.
“We wanted to get the American word out here to people. [We’re] tired of hearing everything on Capitol Hill revolving around this or revolving around that, all the partisanship,” Jeremy said.
Jeremy went on to say that one of the greatest things about the experience is that when the documentary crew was with them, parties or party affiliations were not mentioned once, and they got along with every member of the crew and made some lifelong friends in the process.
The focal points of the documentary interview with the Cook family are the variety of infrastructural issues in their area as well as trying to make space in an online retail landscape that is dominated by big names like Amazon and Walmart.
We had a lot of customers turn away over the years because we don’t offer free shipping. We can’t compete with Amazon and these places that have billions of dollars. Everybody says buy local. When it comes down to it, people don’t want to buy local. The regulations that are put in place are there to keep big business in place, and in turn, us in rural America are the ones paying. Well, I hate to break it to you, rural America is what keeps this place going.Jeremy Cook, Grit & Grace: The Fight for the American Dream
Issues like unreliable power, slow internet and expensive gas compared to states that are only 40 minutes away, are only a few of the problems they cited as reasons running a business can be a challenge, all on top of raising two boys with special needs.
“Most of us are not looking for a handout,” Jeremy said. “We’re looking for the help to build that foundation. Whether it’s a nonprofit out here to help set up business plans, different things like that. I mean it goes far and wide.”
Hopefully, the Cooks and many other Americans will be getting just that kind of help. On December 13, the Cooks, as well as the two other subjects of the documentary were able to attend a premiere event at the national archives alongside the U.S. House of Representatives.
While they were there, they talked to many members of congress and said they felt their message was heard. However, with many new members of congress taking the floor after November’s election, it remains to be seen if this message will stay with legislators, or fall by the wayside.