All 21 year old Michael Coyne wanted was a job. Determined and open-minded he set out searching, only to face rejection based on his disabilities. But when everyone was telling Michael he can’t, he never stopped believing he could- and showed those employers what they are missing.
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On top of being on the Autism spectrum Michael was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, and bipolar disorder. Apparently , having disabilities is considered too difficult in the workplace because no matter where he applied, Michael couldn’t find work.facebook.com Source: facebook.com
“As parents, we look at our kids and we see the value. We see what they are capable of, instead of the system that’s constantly labeling them and putting barriers.” says his mother Sheila.
With Sheila’s help, Michael enrolled in business classes, something he always seemed to have a knack for. And still motivated by his previous rejections, he decided to open his own coffee shop in North Smithfield, Rhode Island. The Red White and Brew only recently opened their doors after months of hard work and planning by mother and son. Inspired by his own experience, Michael aims at hiring other people with special needs so they don’t have the same disappointing results that he did while looking for a job.facebook.com Source: facebook.com
“What I like about the coffee shop idea is the community. We learn on both sides,” says Sheila. “We teach people ‘Yea he has a disability but look what he’s doing. And he’s out in the community getting his social skills'”.facebook.com Source: facebook.com
Opening Red White and Brew has opened Michael and Sheila’s eyes to what it has done for others with disabilities. It has taught them how to make their shop more accessible to disabled workers, along with simple tricks that make life easier, since they have the experience of living with special needs themselves. This inclusive work environment that Michael has created will hopefully inspire other employers to make more of an effort to be more inclusive to those with disabilities.
The shop is located next to a craft store with homemade goods made by artists with special needs, so a lot of families that stop by the shop also stop by Red White and Brew. Whether they’re families of special needs or not, they’re excited to stop by the cafe to celebrate their differences and come together over a cup of coffee.facebook.com Source: facebook.com
It’s just a beacon of hope for people with disabilities,” Michael said of his coffee shop. Sheila goes onto say “We’ve had parents come in with tears in their eyes with the hope that their young children will eventually be accepted into the community.
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