The unemployment rate for college educated adults with Autism is 85%. That number is even higher for autistic adults and teens who do not have higher education. Stacey Wohl, a single mother of two autistic children, wanted to do something about the lack of career opportunities for young adults with disabilities, so in 2015, she used her experience as the owner of Glen Cove Coffee Company to found Our Coffee with a Cause.
Stacey Wohl doesn’t just want to sell coffee, she wants to make a difference. Wohl is always looking for the best education and development programs for her kids. At Our Coffee with a Cause, she is able to provide a job and an opportunity to socialize for kids and adults with disabilities, including those with cognitive disabilities, Asperger’s syndrome, down syndrome and veterans with PTSD.
The business began out of Wohl’s home with her children Brittney, now 20, and Logan, now 18, along with another regular employee named Joseph who is 41 and has down syndrome. Other temporary employees are often classmates of Brittney, Logan, and Joseph.
OCC does the majority of its sales through its online website, where products such as whole bean coffee bags, mugs, k-cups, monthly coffee subscriptions, and chocolate bars are packaged and then delivered with a smile to the post office. During busy holiday seasons, the staff is able to use their math and motor skills for a number of projects such as tying the cellophane and ribbon on the packages and applying labels to the coffee bags. Brittney, who is non-verbal, uses an iPad app to introduce herself and communicate to make sales. Wohl says the tasks help enrich the kids’ lives, as they are proud of themselves for completing tasks and communicating with the public.
OCC is also offered in several super markets on Long Island and in Our Cause Cafe, a brick and mortar addition to the business. Here, employees are also given tasks that genuinely help the company function, such as working in sales alongside an assistant, often using an iPad app. The cafe is expanding to East Northport, and is offering the option to purchase a brick with the name of a loved one with Autism on it to be a part of the new countertop and give the shop a personal touch.
Whol’s vision for OCC is to open up stores around the country to provide meaningful employment to those with disabilities in other states, showing that there is ability in disability. She also hopes she can serve as a role model to other companies who may be able to offer employment opportunities to those with disabilities. Without companies like Stacey’s these children and adults would not otherwise have the opportunity to work.
As a non-profit, a percentage of profits raised are donated to Our Own Place, a 501 C3 charity for Autism, as well as to other charities who work with the disabled. Our Coffee with a Cause also gives back by donating to the Beacon House, a shelter for homeless veterans, as many veterans have been employed by the coffee company.