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Good Day Cafe Opens Its Doors

by on August 17, 2018 2:42 PM

Centre County has a number of great coffee shops, but the newest one in State College is special for reasons beyond the excellent beverages and food it's serving.

Good Day Cafe, which opened its doors on Friday at 286 W. Hamilton Ave., is a nonprofit coffee shop dedicated to employing adults with intellectual disabilities.

With widespread community support, the shop is the work of Strawberry Fields, which provides support services to children and adults with a wide range of disabilities and needs. 

"We provide a variety of services from babies through the whole lifespan, children and adults with all types of disabilities," said CEO Cindy Pasquinelli. "It became so apparent that what was lacking was employment opportunities."

At its opening, Good Day Cafe employs 14 individuals with disabilities, in addition to five staff members in supervisory roles. Pasquinelli said the cafe hopes to provide more employment opportunities in the future.

"We have learned as we have supported people with disabilities the value of employment," she said. "It’s transformational. Having a job makes you feel like you matter, that you have a place in society."

The idea for Good Day Cafe came from State College chiropractor Roy Love. While visiting his daughter at school in Wilmington, N.C., Love came across Bitty & Beau's Coffee, a cafe with a similar mission.

"We were so touched and impressed by that," Love said. "After about the third or fourth time I said to my wife 'We’ve got to bring this back to State College.'"

Love talked with Pasquinelli and soon a committee was formed to explore the idea. Last fall, the project was awarded a $100,000 Centre Inspires grant through Centre Foundation.

Thanks to that grant and donations from across the community, Good Day Cafe opened with no debt, Pasquinelli said.

The shops offerings have a local flavor, with Rothrock Coffee products, Spectral Tea and food from Taproot Kitchen, another State College nonprofit that provides culinary opportunities for individuals with autism and intellectual disabilities.

Jamie Bestwick, owner of Rothrock Coffee, said Love and Strawberry Fields approached him a year ago about getting involved and he was immediately on board.

"I think this is very important for this community," Bestwick said. "It’s a great way to get rid of the stigmas attached to special needs and to really showcase that we really value everyone involved in this. It’s delivering a great product. It’s giving people an opportunity to come in and work, to have fun and interact with a great community. That’s what cafes are for. It’s  getting to know your community, hearing the stories, engaging on a daily basis and being involved in your own community."

Bestwick said it's been "an incredible honor" for his team to help with staff training and preparations to get Good Day Cafe ready for opening.

"To see it open for the first time is just great," he said. "This is a big deal for this town and for all the people involved in this.  We wish them all the success in the world and will stand behind what they’re doing."

Aside from getting a cup of coffee or a bite to eat, the cafe gives patrons an opportunity to support a good cause.

Love said one in 10 adults with intellectual disabilities are gainfully employed and the cafe will help to expand employment opportunities locally.

"It’s going to be a wonderful addition to our community," he said. "You get to help folks who don’t have many opportunities for jobs. It also breaks down the sense of a barrier with disabilities. It will be really special."

"Every purchase you make here is going to help sustain a job or create a job," Pasquinelli added. "You can come here and get great coffee, great food and know you’re helping make a difference."

Good Day Cafe, located in the Hamilton Square Shopping Plaza, is open 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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