DOMINIQUE PERKINS, For the Redlands Daily Facts
Posted: 02/22/2011 10:00:27 PM PST
REDLANDS – The Greater Good Coffee Company is a coffee shop with two goals: good food and providing employment and training for people with developmental disabilities.
“That’s where the name came from,” said manager and job coach Kim Kross. “We wanted to serve a good cup of coffee and good food at affordable prices, and for the greater good.”
Everyone works side by side, and all get input, she said.
“We’re all a big team,” she said. “Everyone has different abilities, and everyone has different jobs.”
There are nine employees, three of whom have disabilities.
The Redlands coffee shop opened in July, and operates under parent company Ability Counts, Inc., a nonprofit program dedicated to increasing the self-sufficiency of those with vocational disabilities in the Redlands, Riverside and Corona areas. The coffee shop was a vision of Al Schwerdt, program director and an Ability Counts founder.
Greater Good employee Mary Hernandez was excited for the chance to learn more about coffee, and support a good cause.
“I remember wondering what opportunities there were for (disabled students) after high school,” she said. “This is really great. They get to do something, and I like to help with them.”
Kross said Schwerdt, who used to be a teacher, noticed that after people with developmental disabilities were done with school, there were few jobs for them. Ability Counts, Inc., was founded in 1980, and now employs more than 400 adults with developmental disabilities.
“It’s become a pretty big thing,” said Stephen Kirkley, another Greater Good employee.
Kross became involved after her husband arranged with Ability Counts, Inc., to have some items re-packaged. When Schwerdt mentioned his dream of opening a coffee shop in Redlands, Kross was very interested.
“Not everyone is a fanatic about coffee like I am,” she said. “I love coffee.”
Besides loving coffee, Kross had experience in the coffee industry. She is a certified barista and a member of the Specialty Coffee Association of America and the Barista Guild of America.
“I love running the business and working with the people,” she said.
They plan to get their patio up and running soon, and as business improves, perhaps add an open-mic night, she said.