When you walk into Not Your Average Joe, you’re going to be greeted by a smiling face. Not even a mask can hide that.
“I’m like social, very social, very talkative," said employee Kathryn Taylor.
The good vibes flow freely at the nonprofit coffee shop that employs individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“I love working there because I love talking to other people and staying connected," Danielle Robinson, another Not Your Average Joe employee said.
That connection expanded last week with the grand opening of the shop’s Norman location, after opening in Midtown 2 years ago.
“When we had the opportunity to launch in Midtown and take over an existing coffee shop, we were like, the world doesn’t need another pretentious coffee shop, so what if we made that a nonprofit, and what if we focused our Not Your Average Joe on one segment of society," Tim Herbel, NYAJ's executive director said.
A segment that is too often underrepresented.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fewer than 20% of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities were employed in 2019.
A stat Jordan Michela and Maggie Bond, Miss Bricktown, know all too well.
Both are advocates for the disabled community.
“You’re giving them that step to be independent and to kind of figure out what they want in life," said Michela, the director of Oklahoma Miss Amazing, an organization aimed at boosting self-esteem in girls and women with disabilities.
Bond, who has two brothers with autism, said, “Places like this are shattering stereotypes to any excuses that a company could have to not being inclusive and integrative.”
Inclusive, integrative, and also accept-ional, a word they created that means to include people of all abilities.
Because at Not Your Average Joe, it’s not just the caffeine that will give you a boost, Herbel said.
“The person serving it is the real reason you’re going to leave feeling delightful. The coffee will help your lips, but they will help your spirit,” he said.
Herbel said they will have another spot opening in the next month inside the Homeland in Oklahoma City near May Avenue and Britton Road.