This past Saturday evening, we spent the evening at Bergies Coffee Roast House in downtown Gilbert, helping out with one of the most inspiring fundraisers I've been to in ages.
The setting couldn't have been more idyllic. The weather was perfect - one of those late spring nights in Phoenix when there is an almost an absence of weather. Kids were throwing balls around and laughing next door at Joe's Real Bar-b-Cue, and Bergies' courtyard was filled to the brim with people of all ages. You could completely forget you were in the middle of downtown Gilbert on a Saturday night.
And this was even before I knew what the event was for. I knew we were donating the coolers for a fundraiser, but learning about Not Your Typical Deli's mission changed everything. This restaurant is raising money to mentor people with autism to work in the restaurant industry.
This is one of the coolest business ideas I've heard. When I think about it, it seems like such a common-sense thing to do. People with autism have as much to contribute as anyone to our economy. Many of them are far above average in intelligence, or other areas. The main barrier to people with autism functioning within a larger community is a lack of understanding and support, not a lack of ability.
If anyone has any doubts about the viability of the restaurant's plan, seeing how Saturday's event turned out should be enough to convince them. The food looked amazing, and the people serving, who are all candidates for the job training program, did an impeccable job. Not Your Typical Deli still has a long way to go in terms of fundraising, but it's clear that they have the passion and the hustle to make it happen. If you'd like to donate, please click the link below. Your money is going to a supremely worthy cause, one we hope to continue being a part of: