Inclusive Brew in Bridgman: Empowering Through Every Cup

NOW: Inclusive Brew in Bridgman: Empowering Through Every Cup

BRIDGMAN, Mich. -- A new place for coffee just opened in Bridgman, but it’s not your typical coffee shop. Its mission is to employ and provide a safe space for those facing challenges such as Down Syndrome. Rising Kites Coffee strives to celebrate the unique talents and skills of those with special needs, especially people with Down Syndrome.

Rising Kites began as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, providing educational tools for families with a child diagnosed with Down Syndrome. The company entered the coffee space this week with the goal of employing those with special needs and encouraging people to see the many gifts that they can share with society.

Danielle Grandholm, the founder of Rising Kites, expressed, “This is a great opportunity for children with disabilities to gain skills and also be a part of the community because so often they are just not given the opportunities to work and find employment, so we wanted to do that.”

Maya Layton, the assistant manager at Rising Kites Coffee, praised the dedication and enthusiasm of the employees. “They’re all very hardworking. They all want to be here. You can tell they love what they’re doing. They want to learn. They want to be hands on. It’s a really great experience to be involved in.”

To witness the wonderful example of community involvement and immersion, Cheryl Lattak, a special education teacher at Berrien RESA, brought her students to Rising Kites Coffee on a field trip. Lattak explained, “This is a great opportunity for students to be out in the community practicing skills that are on the job and building social skills that are on the job. This organization supports our students, and we have partnerships with organizations so this a great one.”

Matt Rosenbaum, one of Lattak’s students, already works as a barista at Rising Kites Coffee, and he enjoys going to work every day. “I’m excited to show up because of my parents and my family and my teacher.”

Friends of the workers also enjoy seeing the contribution their classmates are making to the community. Kathleen Sellin, a customer at Rising Kites, enjoyed visiting with her friend Matt Rosenbaum during her recent trip to Rising Kites.

The coffee shop offers all types of items, including your classic caffè americano, caffè latte, tea, and cold brew, but when asking Rising Kite’s customers about their favorite offerings, the hot chocolate was a hot commodity.

Bri Cass, a customer at Rising Kite, recommended the hot chocolate while enjoying the tasty beverage. Kathleen Sellin, another customer at the coffee shop appreciates both the atmosphere and the hot chocolate. “I like the space because I like the decorating and the chair and mostly, I like the hot chocolate. It’s amazing.” Matt Rosenbaum, both a customer and an employee, says that his favorite items are the donuts and the hot chocolate.

Rising Kites Coffee currently has a full staff based on their operating hours, but the company is hoping to add more hours and shifts as the coffee shop continues to grow. For employment and volunteer opportunities, check out the Rising Kites website.

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