A new coffee shop has opened with the mission to provide employment and community connections to north Fulton residents with developmental or intellectual disabilities.

The coffee shop BrewAble employs its “brewistas” who have developmental or intellectual disabilities and teaches them employment success, problem solving, communication and independence.

Mary Ulich, Jeanette Dummer and other volunteers from Envision Alpharetta wanted to figure out how to make the city more disability-friendly. Ulich and Dummer realized that the biggest road block to those with disabilities is lack of employment opportunities.

According to the 2014 U.S. Census, Fulton County’s disabled population is 49,825 between the ages of 18 to 64. Georgia’s 2015 Disability Status Reports states that 32% of working age people — ages 21 to 64 — with disabilities are employed.

“In addition they’re at risk of depression and isolation and as the get older and some of the things that come along with that, maybe self medicating with alcohol or drugs,” Ulich said. “We wanted to give them a community to be a part of.”

Ulich and BrewAble’s cafe manager Isabelle Rudd, work with employees to best figure out their strengths. Ulich explained some employees are better with two-step tasks, while other can handle multi-step tasks.

“So many people come here with a sense of failure, and they haven’t felt successful in other jobs,” Ulich said.

Ulich says the cafe is meeting a community need by engaging the community. By forming bonds with the community, community members will learn more about disability inclusion.

“I think sometimes people look to other people to solve the problem and we look to our community to solve the problem,” Ulich said.

One of the brewistas recently completed his first day of work at BrewAble.

“My time here so far is pretty good,” employee Albert Williams said. “I do like this job. ... I like everything (about this job).”

Williams said one of his favorite things is putting together the bags of coffee bags customers can buy. Each one is stamped with the BrewAble logo and signed with thanks and the employee’s name.

The cafe sits inside the Alpharetta Community Center where they have a area of the lobby dedicated to their coffee shop. Renovations to expand the space and make the lobby into a coffee shop are planned for August. In order for the renovations to take place, the coffee shop needs to raise $100,000 to cover the costs. So far, BrewAble has raised $40,000.

BrewAble, 175 Roswell Street in Alpharetta, is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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