Do you fancy a cup of coffee and live in Rhode Island? Well, there’s a great new coffee shop in town there with more than just caffeine. It was the learning experience it provided that put the shop on the map – and in the news.
Meet Michael Coyne. the neurodivergent owner of this very noteworthy coffee shop.
Known as Red White & Brew, Michael’s coffee shop sits here today as an example of what people like Michael are capable of. The young man works here and hopes that his actions speak louder than a lot of people’s words.
Michael is autistic, has bipolar disorder, and also attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
And he admits his mental disabilities have made it hard to convince employers that he’d be a good match.
The hardworking Michael is an athlete with the Special Olympics of Rhode Island. But when it comes to finding work, Michael was once again reminded of the hurdles that people like him face.
“After I turned 21, I applied to multiple places. None of them would hire me,” he told CBS.
Wanting to have some experience under his belt first, he took part in a program for the hospitality field.
He’d hoped that this would increase his luck in finding work, but that luck never really came.
This is the reality for many autistic people.
This was obviously a massive disservice to the kind of person he was. Michael was a bright and dedicated man with a hardworking spirit. He shows that very clearly now, but employers just couldn’t see it.
Michael eventually grew tired of hearing “No.”
So he took matters into his own hands
He sought after business classes with Rhode Island Developmental Disability Center to build up his work experience. Determination set in, and it would be that determination that got him to where he is now.
Michael opened Red White and Brew with his family, and it was a success.
His mother, who always knew how capable Michael was, spoke about the cultural stigma toward mental disabilities. People like her son are fighting an uphill battle just to keep up with the rest of us.
“As parents, we look at our kids and see the value. We see what they are capable of, instead of the system that’s consistently labeling them and putting barriers.”
The shop offers hot coffee, breakfast muffins, breads, and a host of other beverages. When Michael’s not busy behind the counter, he’s walking around tending to tables and conversing with people.
Red White and Brew serves you a nice hot coffee, and perspective on both sides.
That’s how the Coyne family puts it.
“We teach people, ‘Yeah, he has a disability, but look what he’s doing.’ And he’s out in the community getting his social skills.”
When people walk in and see Michael, they leave just a bit smarter than when they came in.
They’ll see that people with autism, ADHD, or bipolar disorder can integrate in society just fine. All they need is for us to hear them out and give them a chance.
The example he sets can mean the world to, say, a young autistic child wondering if they can work a typical job too. That little bit of confidence they get might change their lives. Michael’s example teaches a lot, even to other autistic people who might still be battling self-doubt.
Knowing the example he’s set, and the power he has, Michael plans to take things a step further.
He wants to hire more staff, and people with disabilities are particularly welcome.
“Inclusion” is his business model, and he’s going to give people the opportunities he was denied just a few years ago.
“We just want to integrate.” – he said proudly
If you’re in Rhode Island, why not give Michael’s fantastic little shop a visit?
Not only would you be supporting an important little business, but you might be in for some good food and service too. Their reviews are pretty positive.
Click the video below to learn more about Michael’s very special coffee shop!
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