Gabi Angelini has always wanted to do more than people expect of her.
The ambitious 21-year-old with Down syndrome excels in all kinds of sports and has dreamed of owning a restaurant since she was a little girl. While she was still in high school, she looked forward to earning money during the summers. But she quickly learned after filling out countless applications that nobody wanted to give her a job.
Unfortunately, Gabi’s story isn’t unique. It’s very difficult for people with disabilities to find work, and Gabi and her friends are no exception. While Gabi did bag groceries at a local store every Saturday, she wanted more. She knew she was capable of more. So her mom, Mary, offered to help Gabi make her business dream a reality.
Their mission goes so much further than giving Gabi a career. The mother and daughter are passionate about filling a need for people like Gabi. So they decided to open Gabi’s Grounds, a coffee shop in Raleigh, North Carolina, that will employ people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. They didn’t have money for a storefront quite yet, so they started small. Partnering with Larry’s Coffee, another coffee shop with differently-abled employees, they made a special roast to be sold in local stores. They call it “a hug in a mug.”
Gabi has been busy selling coffee, t-shirts, mugs, and stickers in her own booth at local events. She also makes coffee deliveries while Mary runs their GoFundMe page, collecting donations for their future brick and mortar shop. They’ve raised over $50,000 out of their goal of $60,000 so far.
The pair haven’t been able to open the shop yet, but with all their work and the outpouring of support from their community, it’s really only a matter of time. In the meantime, Gabi and Mary are looking forward to having a diverse workforce. Gabi is already planning on hiring her friends.
We can’t wait for the day Gabi’s Grounds opens its doors. This compassionate, determined young lady won’t just be serving great coffee. She’ll be giving her peers a chance to thrive.
Learn more about Gabi’s budding business in the video below, and consider donating to help them hit the ground running. Share to spread awareness about the inclusive shop.
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