In many ways. I really think there are two types of people in this world. There are those who make excuses and then there are those that don’t make excuses. The ones that make excuses will always find a reason why things didn’t work out. They’ll always blame somebody else and they will self righteously fool themselves into believing that it’s somebody else’s fault and then there are the people that don’t make excuses and those are the people I want to talk about. I don’t really want to get deep into the stories of the excuses because trust me, if you would’ve made a t-shirt for me to wear for a good period of my life, it would have said King of Excuses. I know this as well as anybody because this was me and is the me that I’m constantly fighting against to not become again. And I’m talking month to month.
We tweak day to day and minute to minute and then you have people like Michael Coyne. Michael has autism and he’s an athlete in the special Olympics and when he turned 21 he started applying for jobs and one by one because of his disability or other reasons, but nobody would hire him and the rates of autism have been increasing on a yearly basis and it’s more common in boys than in girls. And the prevalence for autism now is one in every 42 boys and one in every 189 girls. So with something that our culture is going to have to deal with, learn from and advance on. But Coyne at 21 didn’t have time to wait for that. One of the places he got rejected from was a coffee shop and he was interested in business. So not having a job. Michael started taking business classes and through doing that he caught the bug for entrepreneurship and decided he’s going to take things into his own hands if he wasn’t good enough to be hired by all these different companies.
He decided he’s going to start his own company and that’s where the red, white and brew coffee house began. And this is how their about page reads. We’re a family owned coffee shop serving up more than a cup of coffee. We employ people with developmental disabilities, encourage community engagement and change the way the world sees those with disabilities. It continues where specialty coffee has selling locally roasted coffee beans. We also sell muffins, pastries and zones, and we share our home with the budding violet or unique gift shop with items from local artists. And the awesome thing about that is a lot of those local artists were struggling as well because they also have disabilities. So by taking charge and taking the lead and not waiting for somebody else to choose him coined not only created the opportunity for himself, not only created the opportunity for other artists and visionaries in his community that have disabilities, but it’s providing an amazing service to the North Smithfield, Rhode Island community, his mother.
Sheila’s even more excited about this because as a parent of a kid with a disability, there’s so many concerns that come with that. It’s not easy for parents to watch your kids sit around the kitchen table while everyone else is enjoying the life and coworkers and talking about their day. She told reporter Amanda from the Western journal, his mom not only loved the idea but she participated in it as well, but it was more than just a coffee for them. What they loved was the community aspect of it to get out into public and to run his own show. They feel like they’re teaching people, they’re teaching you like, yeah, he has a disability, but go look at what he’s doing. And what Michael did was he turned the rejection of not getting hired into something of such greater opportunity and potential and hope for the community that if you would’ve just gotten that job and speaking of hope, that’s their purpose.
Because Coyne has a higher vision of this than just coffee. He calls this a beacon of hope for people with disabilities because not only is he have autism but he also has ADHD and bipolar disorder and the thing that pushed him to eventually take these classes and start this business was growing tired of being told no and he says that he used this as motivation to go and live life on his terms and I just so resonate with that phrase of living life on your terms and what’s beautiful is he wants to do this with inclusion. Meaning it’s not just a shop just for people with disabilities. He plans to hire people with and without special needs and their grander vision now beyond the red white and brew coffee house and beyond working with the budding violet is that they’re hoping that this business model is going to open the door for other disabled individuals that are struggling to find employment and as autism and ADHD, Asperger’s and bipolar.
What this does is it allows so many people that are dealing with this, people that have been in the shadows that have been left out, pushed aside, even made fun of and ostracized. It shows them what’s possible. It shows them they don’t have to just settle for something menial and low level just because they’re a little different in some way. And this story resonates with me so much because I was different. I am different and this stuff was not diagnosed when I was in school. Now we’re a little wary of just stamping labels on people, but I can guarantee you that if the interest in the diagnosis was there when I was a kid, I’m certain that I would be labeled as somebody who has ADHD or possibly bipolar. But those terms sounds so frightening until you realize they’re real people dealing with real problems and we can’t just ignore it.
But what’s great about Michael’s story and why it makes so much sense to me is that people like us don’t always fit in to the normal mold. And to have the option and the freedom to be able to build a business, to be able to build it on your own terms. And not just that, but to be able to have a vision, to not only give yourself an opportunity but to be able to give other people that are experiencing the same thing, that same opportunity. So this story excites me for the possibilities and for the action that Michael and his family took. And that’s why I wanted to bring this to you today. So I know it’s a small place to put. If you wind up in North Smithfield, Rhode Island, stopped by the red white, blue coffee house and support an amazing business. Cause I know that I will and as I say that I’m gonna go to their website and see if they have a gift card. Because it be a pretty cool gift to give one of my friends in Rhode Island. So like I said in the beginning, there’s two people in this world, people that make excuses and people that don’t. Michael Coyne is someone that doesn’t make excuses and I hope you are as well. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.