It was serendipity that I heard about The Grounded Cafe at the ADRC a couple months ago. It sounded like an amazing place and I couldn't wait to go there myself to see what it was all about.
My first visit did not disappoint. A friend and I met at The Grounded Cafe at 300 S. Adams St. in Downtown Green Bay for coffee. We encountered the friendliest person at the cafe counter. Well, maybe not as friendly as Jordan was, but close ;)
The Barista was a trainee from East High School. According to the Director, many of the trainees come from the Special Education Department at East High. Susan ordered a mocha and I ordered a latte. James, (not his real name) took our order and with the help of the only paid employee at the Cafe, relayed the information to another trainee who prepared the drinks for us. With much prompting James rang up our drinks on the register, took our money, made change, and thanked us for our order. Never losing the big smile on his face. It truly was a great encounter and one that made our day so much better. After visiting with my friend for a while I asked to speak to the director of the program. She explained that the concept for The Grounded Cafe came from a video she had seen about a similar Coffee Shop in Wilmington, NC called Bitty and Beau's Coffee. Check it out at bittyandbeauscoffee.com
Her idea was to breakdown stereotypes of what it means to be "disabled" through a job skills training program based on the idea that ALL people have the ability to work and succeed, ALL people have value, and ALL success is built on a community that celebrates and includes persons with disabilities.
The Grounded Cafe at the ADRC opened in June 2017. The Trainees currently come primarily from Curative Connections and East High School. The hope is to be able to expand and train more individuals. Right now, there are only enough funds to pay one part-time employee who works with and helps the Baristas learn their jobs. Obviously, this limits the number of hours that the Cafe can be open. Currently the hours are 7am - 1pm Monday thru Friday. The dream is to expand the hours that they are open and to add at least one more part time employee. So far, they have an incredible success rate - 50 percent of the trainees have gotten jobs in our community after finishing their training. This is more than double the national average of persons with a disability who are employed.
In addition to the Great People at the Grounded Cafe, the coffee was pretty darn good too :) All products served are local, including the "ability beans" used to make the coffee.
Oh, and everyone is welcome. All ages. All abilities. Check out their website at groundedcafegb.org and their facebook page at groundedcafegb
As a result of what the Grounded Cafe is doing and how closely it matches our mission, we have decided to donate the 3000 dollars we raised on Giving Tuesday to the job skill training program to specifically benefit the Trainees/Baristas.
We hope 2018 brings much growth to the Grounded Cafe and to all other organizations and people who are doing similar work across the World. Happy New Year Everyone!