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Friday, July 19, 2024

Empowering People with Disabilities One Cup of Joe at a Time

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Could you imagine graduating high school and not being hired for a part-time job you are qualified for? Unfortunately, this is the reality for 80.9% of Americans with disabilities.

Mi Work Matters, a nonprofit organization advocating for people with developmental disabilities, aims to change the stigma that individuals with disabilities are unable to enter the workforce. The organization provides adults with opportunities for professional growth that would otherwise be severely limited and believes “the hopes, dreams and talents of every person matter.”

Anastasia and Katie\'s Coffee ShopAnastasia and Katie’s Coffee Shop is the first business venture created by Mi Work Matters and will open later this year. The name comes from the daughters of the founders of Mi Work Matters. Co-founder and board president of Mi Work Matters, Kelly Rockwell, said she wanted to give her daughter, Anastasia, the same job opportunities as everyone else, therefore the coffee shop will offer paid, inclusive employment for people of all abilities.

Meaningful job opportunities are hard to come by for people with disabilities and Anastasia and Katie’s Coffee Shop aims to change this. People with disabilities still have the same aspirations and goals as everyone else, and the coffee shop will allow employees to begin working toward those goals by building up their resume and offering real-world job experience.

Anastasia and Katie
Anastasia and Katie of Anastasia & Katie’s Coffee Shop.

The idea behind Anastasia and Katie’s Coffee Shop is based on similar models that have successfully employed people with disabilities. The board of directors realized they could provide that same opportunity in metro-Detroit and when a space opened up, Anastasia and Katie’s Coffee Shop was born.

There has been tremendous support and excitement from the Livonia community as word of the coffee shop continues to spread, said Rockwell. Businesses, such as Angel, Saints & Stuff and Real Estate One, have been eager to get involved by showing support for the coffee shop’s mission. St. Fabian and St. William Schools held shoe drives and penny war fundraising events that raised $2,700 in donations for the coffee shop.

The majority of employees at the coffee shop will be between the ages of 18 and 30. There will be support, such as visual diagrams, check lists and prompts, depending on each employee’s capability. The whole purpose of the coffee shop is to provide employees with experience in all aspects, so they can take the skills they learned and move on to another job if they so choose.

While many standard businesses are wary of hiring individuals with disabilities, this coffee shop will prove that people with disabilities are fully capable of being hard workers. Many candidates have shared that the coffee shop is the only opportunity for a first job in the area and Mi Works Matters is excited to be able to provide that opportunity.

Anastasia and Katie’s Coffee Shop is planned to open late 2019 at 19215 Merriman Rd. in Livonia. It will serve typical coffee drinks, baked goods, salads, soups and sandwiches, said Rockwell. Check here for more updates on the grand opening.

Check out these blogs if you enjoyed this one:

  • Musicians Use the Power of Music to Advocate for People with Disabilities
  • Recognizing and Managing Learning Disabilities in Students
  • Exhibit Featuring Work of Disabled Artists on Display in Grand Rapids

Main image photo credit: ArisSu; courtesy images from Anastasia and Katie’s Coffee Shop

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