MILWAUKEE -- Despite the pandemic, a Friendship Cafe & Bakery is exploding. The secret ingredient to their success is their employees.
23-year-old Shira Miller is one of their employees. Though she lives with a disability, she's ready for work, "The job is amazing!"
She is an exceptional barista, "I make cappuccinos, I make lattes... hot chocolate."
All of this is possible, thanks to The Friendship Circle of Wisconsin. The nonprofit's hallmark is connecting children with special needs with their peers at home. COVID-19 has made that difficult.
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"The challenge of isolation is one of the biggest mental health challenges that an adult with special needs can face," said Rabbi Levi Stein, Friendship Circle of Wisconsin, adding, "We had to get creative and customizing cookies to individual businesses opened up a whole new opportunity."
The day we visited, Glendale's Pet Apothecary put in a large order.
Jeff Langer said, "The fact that I have the cookies makes people come outside, and I get just a chance to briefly talk to them."
This supports their bakery, which employs 15 people with special needs. Langer adds, "I think every business should look at hiring people with disabilities, and often times that best person for your company has a disability."
Friendship Bakery plans to hire ten more people with special needs starting this month. The goal is to give them the skills they need to eventually branch out on their own.