Online Originals: Barriers to job opportunities magnify for people with intellectual disabilities

Online Originals

GREENVILLE (WNCT) October is Down Syndrome Awareness month, where organizations across the country are spreading awareness, advocacy, and inclusion and celebrating individuals with Down syndrome.

In eastern North Carolina, there are a few organizations that celebrate individuals with intellectual disabilities and provide them with opportunities they would otherwise not have.

One of those opportunities includes job openings, but the slow crawl of the pandemic have swallowed whole many industries.

That leaves many people with a hard time finding employment, but those difficulties are magnified for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Awaken Coffee Stand is a local non-profit employing people with special needs.

They are a volunteer operation, but the co-founders hope to put the volunteers on the payroll.

They serve coffee at local markets, but they are in the process of raising money for a physical storefront in Greenville.

The stand had to halt their efforts due to COVID-19.

Now, they are slowly starting to pop-up at events across the county.

One of their employees is Olivia Murray.

She says she enjoys volunteering at the stand.

Her dad, Nick Murray, says that Olivia and her friends have had to confront a few challenges due to the pandemic.

Olivia says she enjoys volunteering, which she had to stop temporarily due to the pandemic.

Now, she’s excited to start again and work with Carol Preston, one of the co-founders.

“…she’s cool and fun and funny, and she always brighten my day when I see her smile.”

Olivia Murray

She hopes to one day be employed full time if they ever open a physical storefront. Her dad says having opportunities like these are difficult to come by.

“Opportunities like Awaken, there’s not that many in Greenville right now, so this is really great opportunity for Olivia and her friends to have a place where they can feel comfortable and where they can work.”

Nick Murray

The stand needs $300,000 to open a physical space in Greenville. Currently, they are at $20,000. You can support Awaken Coffee Stand and their volunteers at their website by buying their coffee and merchandise, or by making a donation. You can also catch them at local markets.

They will be at Stoke Family Farm on Oct 17, 25, 31 and November 1.

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