Urbana coffee shop brewing opportunities for adults with disabilities

Miami Valley News

URBANA, Ohio (WDTN) – The current drink of the week at the Spotted Cow Coffeehouse is called “Santa’s Latte.” The peppermint mocha concoction and its artwork on the cafe’s menu board were both created by Burr Simpson.

A two-year employee at the coffee shop, Simpson has been building up his social and vocational skills.

“I do dishes, clean tables, make drinks, make special drinks of the week.” he said.

Like several employees at the Spotted Cow, Simpson first started receiving services and skill training at Downsize Farm Support Services. The service center, founded by a family just outside of Urbana, combines skill-building exercises with daily activities for individuals with disabilities.

The organization’s mission was inspired by the founders’ sons, Levi and Eric, who were both born with Down Syndrome.

The boys’ sister, Bobbi McKee, was also inspired to provide services to others with disabilities.

“These individuals also deserve the opportunity to give back. They deserve the opportunity to show that they have something to give as well,” McKee said.

In 2014, McKee combined that passion with her goal of starting a business and created the Spotted Cow Coffeehouse, with the ultimate vision of building a place where adults with disabilities are viewed as contributing members of society, rather than the ones always in need of charity.

“(We’re) killing that stigma,” she said. “These are contributors, they do have something to offer.”

The cafe employs clients through Downsize Farm’s job services, partnering with the agency to help workers build vocational skills and then apply them to a real job.

While some employees like Simpson excel at customer service and are learning the basics of operating a cash register, others, like Jennifer Stidham, are honing their cleaning and organizational skills.

“(I like doing) the dishes and making coffee,” Stidham said.

McKee explained she tries to use each individual’s talents to maximize the team work.

“It’s the idea of taking each individual person’s skills and pairing with other people within the business to make the overall place run,” McKee said.

Simpson said he enjoys working at the Spotted Cow and he’s open to using his new vocational skills for future job opportunities. 

“Just having a happy attitude and putting your best foot forward,” he said with a laugh.

The Spotted Cow Coffeehouse also hosts a number of community events and space for other businesses and charities.

If you’d like to learn more about the Spotted Cow, click here.

To learn more about Downsize Farm, click here.

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