Lake Geneva’s busy Main Street will play host to an inspiring coffee shop. Guided by a model of inclusion, Inspired Cafe operates based entirely on inclusion. At the end of the day, its primary focus is the integration of disabled individuals. That is because Inspiration Ministries runs the shop. This nonprofit laid the groundwork for a business model that focuses on its employees as much as patrons.
Inspired Cafe opens in mid-April. First, the cafe is undergoing renovations to bring it to its fullest potential. “We’ll have all new flooring, new lighting, and we’re putting a fireplace in,” Erik Barber, President of Inspiration Ministries, explained. After that, Inspiration Ministries will have a new way of helping the disabled community.
Inspired Cafe offers opportunity and celebration
“The whole goal of this coffee shop is to celebrate people with disabilities,” Barber elaborated. This is to counter a historic national trend of hiding such people away, included but invisible. Inspired Cafe ensures they are all part of the establishment there. “We want to put them in the spotlight, and to really change the conversation about the purpose, the value, they should have in our community.”
Inspired Cafe already has a highly specified business model. It includes: “employing up to 20-30 individuals with mild to moderate developmental and physical disabilities where they will be celebrated, job trained, coached and, over time, placed into a fully integrated work setting.” This, in turn, stems from Inspiration Ministries. The nonprofit provides longterm care for disabled individuals. As of today, approximately 70 individuals live on its campus. These residents, living in Walworth County, range from ages 22 to 85.
The cafe wants to inspire others for years to come
Originally, money to establish Inspired Cafe came from fundraising. It has earned $350,000; the cafe’s total goal is actually $400,000. Money covers starting equipment and the first few rent payments. What has been earned came from Inspiration Ministries.
Ultimately, though, Barber is confident the cafe will sustain itself once it gets started. Then, he feels, profits can cover operating costs. He wants everything to be self-sustaining and Stephanie Klett, President of VISIT Lake Geneva, agrees it will be. That’s because Inspired Cafe actually sits mere steps from the city’s beach. Therefore, it shall enjoy a lot of foot traffic. As a result, more people can see the employees there and join in celebrating them in more visible spaces. Already, Inspired Cafe has members of the differently-abled community building the business. Jani Gregornik, 29, who has Down syndrome, recently completed the screening process. She and her family are extremely excited by this upcoming opportunity. Jani already has extensive volunteer experience, but she is eager to utilize that and learn new skills. Above all, the entire community benefits from this enriching business.