The month of April brings the beginning of so many things in State College: the trees start to blossom, it rains (or snows) almost every day and finals are quickly approaching. With that being said, students are becoming dependent on their daily dose of caffeine to boost their motivation so they can finish the spring semester strongly.
With apps like Starbucks that allow you to pre-order your drink and pick it up within minutes, and cafés like Saints where finding a seat is a miracle, coffee shop experiences are becoming sparse for Penn State students … up until now, that is.
This past fall while celebrating a record-breaking year of philanthropy, the Centre Foundation awarded the Centre Inspires grant of $100,000 to Strawberry Fields for their proposal of a coffee shop.
Strawberry Fields is an organization based out of State College that provides quality community-based and residential services to children and adults with disabilities, along with comprehensive services and support for their families.
But what sets this coffee shop apart from all others in State College? Their customer service.
The coffee shop, which has not yet been named, will employ people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and will be located at 286 W. Hamilton Ave. in Hamilton Square Shopping Plaza.
The shop will be modeled after Bitty & Beau’s Coffee, a shop that also employs those with disabilities and strives to create a path for these people to become more valued, accepted and included in every community.
While visiting his daughter in Wilmington, North Carolina, Dr. Roy Love of Nittany Valley Chiropractic Center had his first experience at Bitty & Beau’s Coffee.
“And I kept going back,” Love says. “I don’t even drink coffee, but it was the experience and warm feeling that I got from the employees that kept taking me back.”
Realizing how well-received a coffee shop like this would be in State College, Love proposed the concept to Strawberry Fields.
With the tremendous help of the $100,000 grant, this coffee shop is projected to arrive at State College in late spring 2018.
Centre Foundation Executive Director Molly Kunkel says that the proposal was a perfect fit for the Centre Inspires grant’s goal of supporting innovative and transformative programs in the community.
“Strawberry Fields’ coffee shop idea is brand new to our area and has the potential to truly change the lives of everyone involved,” Kunkel says.
Cindy Pasquinelli, CEO at Strawberry Fields, stresses that the idea and opening of this coffee shop is thanks to a community of people who pushed for it.
“Strawberry Fields is honored to be the recipient of the 2017 Centre Inspires Award,” Pasquinelli says. “This coffee shop is a joint effort of many local partners who share our dream of a future that holds inclusion, acceptance and employment for an underserved group of people. We are proud to have Centre Foundation join us in this new venture.”
Be sure to check out the Strawberry Fields Facebook page for updates on the coffee shop and opening dates!