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Coffee Shop Run By Adults with Special Needs

A college student started a coffee shop to help people with intellectual disabilities develop professional skills. Brut visited the cafe in North Carolina to speak with the founder and staffers of 321 Coffee. ☕

Coffee Shop Run By Adults with Special Needs

This coffee shop is staffed by people with special needs is breaking stereotypes of the IDD community. The Raleigh, North Carolina nonprofit wants to help them move into the workforce. Lindsay Wrege started 321 Coffee, which is run by North Carolina State University students and adults with IDD (Expand to Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities.) She really wanted to provide something to these adults because she recognizes how much value they have and how much they really can bring to society. And what better way than through a cup of coffee?

Employee Carly Young says, “It's really interesting and fun. So many new experiences. And lots of things like making coffee, I work with other people. I just really enjoy it. As I grew older, I recognized that there was a significant lack of opportunities professionally for adults with IDD. We really worked to incorporate them into all aspects of the coffee shop, so they are greeting customers, they're taking orders, they're processing the checkout, they’re making hot and cold coffee drinks.”

Proud owner Lindsay adds, “the value that I think everyone is getting out of it, both the adults with IDD who are having a tie to a college campus, we invite them out, and we do a big cookout on campus and I think for them to have a place and a purpose on the college campus, as well as the value that I believe that these college students are getting out of working with these adults. It's been incredible to see true friendships form over time.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics only 20% of adults with disabilities are employed in the U.S. and Wrege is creating a space to change the world through gainful employment. The coffee shop opened in March 2019 and is currently run on a volunteer basis. But Wrege plans to create viable solutions via paid positions once sales are steady and furthering positive community relations.

Brut.

05/07/2019 10:22 AMupdated: 06/14/2019 3:07 PM
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3 comments

  • Françoise A.
    12/30/2019 07:50

    My favorite restaurant in France near my house.

  • Michael N.
    12/29/2019 00:46

    There still are some good people left in this world.

  • Jose G.
    12/27/2019 20:14

    That’s awesome