Online Originals: Reducing the stigma around employing people with disabilities


GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — October is Disability Employment Awareness Month, which aims to have more people with disabilities enter the workforce.

Awaken Coffee in Greenville is one local business helping reduce the stigma of people with disabilities. The business employs people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Its mission is to give the community a sense of purpose through jobs.

Currently, Awaken Coffee is available online and through pop-up shops, but they’ll soon be opening a storefront in Greenville. 

Something good brewing with fundraiser for new coffee shop in Greenville

The business is run by the non-profit Lives Of Purpose, founded by Jennifer Dyson and Carol Preston. Dyson’s son is on the autism spectrum, fueling her passion for this mission. She said her employees bring their own uniqueness.  

“A better connection with the customer base, because these folks are so social and so loving, that there becomes a relationship between an employee and customer that isn’t there with an atypical employee,” Dyson said.  

One major myth that’s often cited about hiring people with disabilities is providing different accommodations is expensive. The U.S. Department of Labor says 58% of accommodations cost absolutely nothing to make, while the rest typically cost only $500. Tax incentives are available to help employers cover the costs. 

To learn more about their mission and how you can help open Awaken Coffee’s storefront, click here.


Follow Victoria Holmes on Twitter @VicAntHol

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