GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — There will soon be a new way to get your coffee in Greenville. This new shop is a little different but in a special way.
Awaken Coffee held a fundraiser Tuesday at Rock Springs Center in Greenville to push its efforts forward. Money used for the fundraiser will go towards getting the shop open. It will employ at least 20 special needs adults to help with skills and confidence in the workforce.
The goal is to raise $300,000 to cover the building lease, equipment, training and other expenses. A link to donate or to place an order for coffee to be shipped to you in the meantime is also available here.
Nearly 80% of disabled people in the country are unemployed. In Pitt County, 60% of disabled people are without jobs. That’s a big reason why the founders of Awaken Coffee knew it was important for this business to open within the community.
“You age out of the school system at age 22 and in Pitt County, there is not a lot to do,” said Carol Preston, Awaken Coffee co-founder and president. “So we want to give an opportunity to provide employment, provide training and in turn help the rest of Pitt County understand the importance, the worthiness and the good employment they can get through those with special needs.”
The money raised from Tuesday’s fundraiser will help open its new shop, which will be located on the corner of Evans and West 14th Street in Greenville.
“We have been blessed to not have been donated the space but the lease is very reasonable, economical, which works well to our purpose as a nonprofit,” said Jennifer Dyson, Awaken Coffee vice president and treasurer.
When open, nearly 40 special-needs people will be engaging with the shop.
“We will have very specialized skills behind the corner which will be hot and cold baristas just like at Starbucks. and then we will have cashiers which could be used in any business in the Greenville area,” Dyson said. We will have stock clerks, greeters, people cleaning and these skills can be used really anywhere.”
The hope is to help these individuals get into the workforce outside of Awaken Coffee.
“We really want these people to get hired outside of us and go into employment for other businesses,” Dyson said.
Most of all, this will be a fun place for the community to get their coffee and help these individuals.
“The atmosphere is amazing. It is the most welcoming atmosphere on earth,” Dyson said. “There is no judgment, they’re happy to work, they want to work and they bring a joy that I don’t think you see every day in the normal business arena.”