Brooke Goodspeed understands that not all families have the freedom or opportunity to enjoy public outings and open spaces. Goodspeed, who has a son diagnosed with Down syndrome and on the autism spectrum, knows that it can be an uncomfortable situation to be stared at, whispered about – which oftentimes forces an end to a family outing.
Instead of lamenting what she and her family, and other families miss out on, Goodspeed took matters into her own hands and opened a coffee shop in Narberth committed to accepting everyone, especially those people with special needs, writes Erin McCarthy for philly.com.
“I wanted to build a place where we could all go together,” she said as she sat in the middle of the cafe on a bustling weekday morning. “People feel comfortable coming here.”
Goodspeed, 41, of a Wynnewood, and a modest team opened GET cafe — named after her nonprofit, Great Expectations Together — on Valentine’s Day. Not only do their profits go toward camps, classes, and other support for people with special needs (and their parents), she said, but they also employ 16 people with various disabilities.
On a national level, about 36 percent of people with disabilities are employed, compared to 77 percent of people without disabilities, according to the 2018 Annual Report on People with Disabilities in America. If they are employed, national and state laws (including in Pennsylvania) allow for employees with disabilities to be paid less than minimum wage — sometimes as little as $1 an hour.
Goodspeed said her employees are paid $10 an hour because, she said paying employees a fair wage is as important as teaching them life skills.
“It’s a lot more than just learning how to do a job,” she said.
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