Good Neighbors

Coffee Shop Brews Up Confidence

Community coffee shop creates job opportunities for their special needs neighbors.

Albert Williams probably never imagined he'd become a brewista in a coffee shop. But here he is, starting the new year with a job he enjoys, customers who appreciate him, and co-workers who share his enthusiasm for showing everyone what they can do when given the opportunity.

BrewAble (emphasis on the "able") is a coffee shop and cafe that operates in the newly renovated lobby of the Alpharetta, GA Community Center. Its purpose is to serve delicious coffee, of course, but its mission is bigger: give people with intellectual and developmental disabilities a chance to hold down a job and be successful at it.

The idea came from volunteers at Envison Alpharetta who recognized that one of the biggest roadblocks for people with disabilities is the lack of employment opportunities. "They're at risk of depression and isolation and as the get older," Mary Ulich told the Marietta Daily Journal . “We wanted to give them a community to be a part of."

Ulich and BrewAble's cafe manager work with employees to figure out their strengths and then tailor the worker's position and training so they're doing what they're good at. “So many people come here with a sense of failure, and they haven't felt successful in other jobs," Ulich said. Success obviously breeds loyalty as you can see in this video of the pumped-up employees right before the grand opening:

As for Albert (below), he was recently promoted to Pop-abilities coordinator, which according to BrewAble's Facebook page , means he's in charge of quality control over the cake pops that are a staple of the sweet treats the cafe offers. “My time here so far is pretty good," Albert told the Daily Journal. “I do like this job. ... I like everything (about it)."

The community has embraced the cafe and its employees. They raised money to expand and furnish the shop's space in the Community Center, and there are regular events to bring people in, like the Cookies With Cops cookie decorating party last weekend.

The founders believe the cafe is not only meeting the needs of the employees, but teaching others about including people with disabilities in the community's every day life. “I think sometimes people look to other people to solve the problem and we look to our community to solve the problem," Ulich said.

If you're in the area, BrewAble is at 175 Roswell Street in Alpharetta, GA 30009. Go to their Facebook page for their hours. If you don't live in Georgia, why not look for opportunities to participate in activities in your community where you can interact with people with disabilities? We found some:

Related stories:

Sweet New Shop Run Mainly By Adults on the Autism Spectrum

Nonprofit Connects Children With and Without Disabilities

Who knows? You might just discover how rewarding it is to be friends who someone who is different!

(Images and video: BrewAble Facebook page )

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