STE. GENEVIEVE, MO (KFVS) - A new coffee house in Ste. Genevieve, Mo. is aimed to employ primarily special needs individuals when it opens later this year.
The Ste. Genevieve County Senate Bill 40 has purchased a commercial building located right in the heart of Downtown Ste. Genevieve for the Common Grounds Coffee House.
“I think you’re going to have a lot of great foot traffic, being in the center of downtown and being a tourist attraction,” Senate Bill 40 President Jason Schott said. “That’s going to be very instrumental for our business for those customers to come in.”
Schott said this is an excellent opportunity to be able to work with special needs individuals to be able to give them a platform to be able to get into the workplace industry.
"It's going to give employment to those individuals with special needs that may not be employed right now or may not be able to get an employable job at other places," Schott added.
On Tuesday, April 2, Common Grounds will be holding an informational meeting for parents or guarding of individuals with special needs who are interested in working for the coffee house.
At the meeting, parents and guardians will learn about potential job duties, business hours and more.
The meeting will be held at the Ste. Genevieve High School Commons area.
Parents or guardians are asked to RSVP by calling Jason Schott at 573-880-8029 or Jami Drury at 573-883-4500,ext. 2131.
Schott said he feels a lot of counties lack in areas of employment for special needs individuals. The coffee house plans on employing roughly 90 percent of their staff that have special needs with the rest being supporting staff.
"Individuals with special needs, they just want to be like everyone else," Schott stated. "They want to be in the community, feel like they are contributing to their community and doing something that they want to do. This is giving them an opportunity."
The coffee shop will also utilize students within a transitional program to be able to train there to be able to make coffee, engage with customers, and learn other workplace environment necessities.
We talked with teachers with the Ste. Genevieve School District which work with special needs individuals and prepare them for real world job placements and life development after high school
Ste. Genevieve High School Special Education Teacher Sarah Politte teaches a transitional program called "Work Experience" to prepare the students for after high school.
"The goal of the class was that it is designed for students to develop work skills in the community setting with the ending goal for those students to obtain integrated competitive employment," Politte said.
Kristi Cleghorn teaches vocational classes for special needs individuals from grades 6 through 12. One thing in particular she teaches her class is how to run a coffee shop and deliver their product to teachers throughout the district.
Cleghorn said with this class and the transitional program, they have seen an increase in special needs individuals being included more throughout every day life in the Ste. Genevieve area.
"We've seen a huge increase in inclusion in our district where students are more accepted, Cleghorn stated. "They are getting out there and making real, meaningful friendships with the people around them."
Cleghorn added that it is important we help them out with any areas they need adjustments in to better their lives post education.
"After high school, they will be out in the real world and they are going to be with everyone else," Cleghorn added. "If you exclude one member of the community, then are you really a community?"
Politte said the Work Experience transitional program is in it’s second year and has already seen some success.
"We've had a lot of success," Politte stated. "The first year we had the program we had two students that gained competitive employment at our local hospital," Politte said. "My students are currently out in other areas of the community working. The goal in mind is for them to develop the skills while they are there so they can hopefully get employment in that location."
Back in 1978 was when Senate Bill 40 was passed in the State of Missouri. It was a bill that allowed counties to form boards to collect property taxes solely used for the betterment of special needs individuals.
“85 to 90 percent of all tax money collected in Ste. Genevieve County goes back into the community,” Schott said. “This would help many special needs individuals with a variety of areas including hospital stays, equipment, horse therapy, music therapy, group homes, shelter workshops and more.”
The Common Grounds Coffee House is slated to open in the summer later this year.