As a single mother of two autistic children, I am tasked with all typical parental responsibilities, in addition to securing the best education and development programs and healthcare services to meet the unique needs of my children. This hasn’t been easy. I founded Our Coffee with a Cause in the hope that I could help other parents in my situation.
As the co-owner of a wholesale coffee business for more than 20 years, I knew my business skills could be put to work making a difference. I started Coffee with a Cause in 2012, but had to put the project on hold after my daughter Brittney was involved in a car accident with her special needs boarding school. Brittney is now doing very well and is ready to head back into an active and productive lifestyle. With Brittney in good health, I can focus my attention back on Our Coffee with a Cause once again. With the support of the Northport SEPTA, I was able to get the project back off the ground in early 2015. With attention from retailers like Costco and news outlets such as Newsday and Fios 1, we’re already beginning to see wonderful feedback.
One in 50 kids is now diagnosed with autism, but there are very few job opportunities when they age out of school. Our Coffee With a Cause is a small business that employs young adults with a variety of learning disabilities. Our business structure gives them the opportunity to engage in a friendly, supportive learning environment and work on real-life skills like interpersonal relations, math and motor skills. Depending on their physical abilities, our special needs employees are assigned a variety of tasks, like affixing labels to coffee bags, grinding fresh coffee beans, and basic packing and shipping. Using a basic iPad as our “register,” many of our employees, including my non-verbal daughter Brittney, are taught how to sell coffee with the help of assistants.
The goal of Coffee With a Cause is to give back. We can achieve this directly through “Our Own Place,” a non-profit organization I founded to further encourage development among special needs person. The ultimate goal of Our Own Place is a weekend respite house for single parents to unwind from the stress of the daily lives.
I hope to make this business a national chain and employ many special needs adults and show the world that there is ability in disability. You can help by investing and growing this business or our charity. Every penny counts.