A Kentucky Coffee Shop With A Mission Is Expanding Thanks To A Grant

Jan 15, 2019

An organization over the past forty years, helping individuals with disabilities, is being awarded more funding to grow its coffee shop.  Point Perk in Northern Kentucky is expanding thanks to a $35,000 grant from the Hatton Foundation.

“I hope that we get more people in here and get to see new customers and hope that they enjoy our coffee. Good way to start your morning” says Liz Stacey.

Liz is one of the first employees who served up coffee at Point Perk in Covington. When I met her two years ago she was making and serving coffee and had just learned to run the cash register.

The coffee shop is part of a non-profit organization that trains and employs people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Point/Arc of Northern Kentucky was founded in the early 1970’s. President Judi Gerding says the Point /Arc operates around the clock programs for kids from age five to folks in their eighties and beyond. She says the residential, vocational, and social programs have helped hundreds of people reach their full potential.

Gerding says, “We decided we’re gonna fill in the service gaps. What can we do differently that other agencies who serve our population aren’t doing?  So for instance one of our programs is case management. There are other agencies who do case management but they’re all on overload. We like to customize our services around the individual. So we don’t plug somebody in some place without thinking it’s gonna be successful for them.”

When Point Perk opened a couple of years ago hours of operation were from 8 a.m. until noon.  Jill Disken, Vice President of Point Arc’s social enterprises, says the coffee shop is doing so well hours are now 7-3 M-F and 9-1 on Saturday. She says thanks to a recent grant for thirty-five thousand dollars from the Hatton Foundation the coffee shop is getting ready to expand.

Disken notes, “We are striving to remodel here soon, within the year. To expand the area so people can come and hang out and study and have group meetings and hopefully stay open until 8 or 9 at night. We’re hoping to put in couches and booths and tables in here and of course having all the plug-ins and stuff people need for internet access.”

Standing behind the counter making a specialty coffee is former teacher and coffee shop manager Tiffany Barr. She uses her skills as teacher to train the employees and volunteers.

She says, “I want them to be empowered to be able to do the stuff on their own whether it’s making a drink. Some of them are more comfortable with the espresso machine than others. We have everything from those who want to help out with coffee and cleaning. And some want to make espresso drinks and smoothies and frappuccinos. Trying to help make them feel comfortable.”

Barr is working with 23- year-old Emily Loosle. Emily is one of the employees at Point Perk.  Handing one of the customers a latte, Emily lists all the drinks she notices customers prefer at the coffee shop: “Hot chocolate, coffee, mocha and latte.”

Mary Ellen Can has learned many skills thanks to the Point/Arc of Northern Kentucky. She likes working at Point Perk a lot.

She says, “Greeting all the people comes in. Giving them the coffee or whatever they want.” 

Mary Ellen says customers are great and there’s a special reason she likes working with the Point Perk staff.“They’re like family to me.” 

The Point/Arc of Northern Kentucky continues to develop new programs so people with developmental and intellectual disabilities have the opportunity to reach their fullest potential.