We are so excited to introduce you to Lindsay Wrege, co-founder & CEO of 321 Coffee. 321 Coffee is a nonprofit coffee shop that employs adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Their mission is to provide meaningful employment for adults with IDD and to model inclusion for other businesses to follow. Lindsay is about to start her senior year at NC State but started 321 Coffee her freshman year of college after being inspired by three of her closest friends from grade school.
CREATING A NONPROFIT
In elementary school, her first friends in 3rd grade at her new school happened to have different disabilities. She grew up with them as some of her best friends and was able to see the world through their eyes. As they got close to HS graduation, she saw that she had the world ahead of her, she could go to college, abroad, get a job, and much more. However, she realized that her friends did not have the same opportunities.
80% of adults with disabilities do not have jobs. As an incoming freshman, she wanted to provide adults with disabilities the opportunities to have jobs and show their true work ethic to others. She decided to create a nonprofit coffee shop to provide meaningful jobs for adults with disabilities. Starting really small passing out free coffee and hoping for tips, they have quickly moved up to a permanent spot at their local farmers market. That first year, they did a ton of small pop-ups through Raleigh, North Carolina. Through the year, the community came together to help it start and put together all of the pieces to make 321 Coffee.
EFFECT ON THE COMMUNITY
Lindsay is all about learning about others and learning from others. She believes in others and their potential and loves to give others the opportunity to live up to it. She hopes that 321 Coffee gives the community the chance to interact with people of all types of ability.
Lindsay is such an inspiration. As a senior in college, she has already done so much good in this world. Growing up with her 3 best friends having different levels of ability, she grew up with an entirely different perspective than most of her peers. With the opening of 321 Coffee, she is able to provide meaningful jobs for adults with varying levels of abilities. Not only is she changing the lives of her employees, but she is also opening the eyes of her community.