LIVONIA, Mich. (WWJ) -- "We are strong and good."
That's the motto of a brand new coffee shop in Livonia that hires special needs individuals to provide opportunities that are not easy to come by.
An official grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Tuesday at Anastasia and Katie's Coffee Shop & Cafe on Merriman Road, north of 7 Mile. The coffee shop was co-founded by Kelly Rockwell and Dan Duffy whose daughters -- Anastasia and Katie -- have Downs Syndrome. The shop opened in November and held its official celebration Tuesday, with more than 100 customers, city officials and well wishers showing up.
Rockwell says she hopes to see more businesses follow their lead.
"It will be kind of a springboard for other businesses that aren’t necessarily non-profits or focused on a social cause, but that are just going about their business that would consider hiring people with developmental disabilities," Rockwell said.
The shop is run in part by MI Work Matters, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing employment opportunities for people with developmental disabilities -- something hard to come by.
"The unemployment rate is so high for people with different abilities -- it’s at 85-90 percent," Duffy said. "So we tried to find a business plan of how we could get anybody with a different ability and cognitive ability to work together as a team, and this is what we came up with."
Several employees spoke at Tuesday's event, including Marisa Marvac and Ian Edgar.
"I love my job at Ana and Katie’s Coffee Shop and Café and feel very proud to have meaningful work, which is often difficult for adults like me that have special needs," Marvac said.
"I just love what’s going on here and I love what I do. So.. ‘we’re good and strong,’ people!" Edgar said.