Toni Hess to bring Inclusion Coffeehouse to life through local SWAP program
When Toni Hess, a fourth-generation Craig native, came up with the idea to open a coffee shop in Craig, Hess and her husband, Ryan, the couple looked hard at finding a building that was suitable.
After looking around for a bit and not finding anything feasible, the Hess’s were introduced to Amanda Montgomery, who along with her husband, Chris, own Four Points Funding, which had just purchased the old Boy-Ko building with plans of creating a Warehouse Food Hall.
After some talks, the Hess’s agreed to partner with Warehouse Food Hall, bringing their idea of a coffee shop — Inclusion Coffeehouse — into the fold as the anchor of the newly-renovated 5,000 square-feet complex.
According to Hess, the coffee shop will feature Dillanos Coffee Roasters out of Washington, and will also offer green beans for personal monthly roasting.
“We’ll be working with local roasters as well,” Hess said. “Dillanos will also be providing barista training for staff.”
That staff will be all about inclusion, Hess said. As a former special education paraprofessional, Hess said Inclusion Coffeehouse will be working with the School to Work Alliance Program (SWAP), which is a collaborative initiative between the Colorado Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and local school districts/Board of Cooperative Educational Services, and is supported by the Colorado Department of Education.
“Inclusion Coffeehouse will be run predominantly by teens and young adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities,” Hess said. “They will receive on the job training and leave with marketable skills to use in their future employment.
“The idea behind Inclusion Coffeehouse is that it is a place of inclusion and acceptance,” Hess added. “For some of our employees we will be a place of long-term employment, but for others my hope is that we are just a piece of their puzzle. They will leave with marketable skills and move on to make their dreams come true just like I am doing.”
Inclusion Coffeehouse will be working exclusively with the local SWAP program. The SWAP Program seeks to formalize relationships between schools and businesses/organizations to bring resources together to support educational success in our schools.
The local SWAP program is run by Amanda McDermott. McDermott previously worked hard to open a coffee house, called Blue Bark Cafe at the high school to provide barista training to students with intellectual/developmental disabilities.
Currently, students work there as part of their classes. The hope is that the Blue Bark Cafe will serve as a feeder program to Inclusion Coffeehouse.
“Through SWAP, Inclusion Coffeehouse will be getting our job coaches who will work directly to support our staff,” Hess said.
Inclusion Coffeehouse hopes to open sometime in 2021, Hess added.
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