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Gigi’s Playhouse in Raleigh—a Down syndrome advocacy group—has been a major proponent from the beginning. It’s where 321 Coffee found their original group of adult volunteers. Michelle Pfeiffer, the outreach coordinator at Gigi’s Playhouse, has a 17-year-old daughter with Down syndrome who volunteers at 321 Coffee. “My daughter is learning so many valuable skills there. She greets people, works as a barista, and checks people out with the iPad,” Pfeiffer says. “And every time she works she gets better at each of these different tasks.” Pfieffer appreciates Wrege’s focus on providing meaningful work for her daughter. “This experience will help her gain confidence for whatever job she chooses later in life. Because that’s what we all hope for our children, both those with IDD and those who are typically developing—that they would be productive members of society and able to earn a living,” Pfeiffer adds. After starting with a small group from Gigi’s Playhouse three years ago, over 40 individuals with IDD have volunteered, including 21-yearold Matthew Schwab. “I enjoy having an opportunity to serve our community through coffee. My favorite part is interacting with customers and working the cash register,” Schwab says. The transition from pop-up events to the State Farmers Market proved to be a growth opportunity as well for 321 Coffee. “Once we were able to move indoors it started to feel like a real coffee shop experience. We sell baked goods, merchandise, and things like iced coffees,” Wrege says, adding that with the consistency of operations at the market, “we’re able to take steps toward having our volunteer IDD staff become paid employees.” And just like in the fourth grade, Wissink’s friendship will keep providing inspiration and help to Wrege as 321 Coffee grows. “When I found Lindsay, she helped me have more confidence. I was shy toward people, but now I’m not. So when she asked me to come work with her, I said yes,” recalls Wissink, a regular volunteer at 321 Coffee. The influence seems to go both ways with the two childhood friends. Wissink also hopes to empower others with IDD through her work at the shop: “My dream at 321 Coffee is to promote awareness and tell other people like me that they are not alone and they can do anything.”

JULY/AUGUST 2019

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Profile for Midtown Magazine, Cary Living Magazine

Midtown Magazine  

July/August 2019

Midtown Magazine  

July/August 2019

Profile for midtown
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