This Coffee Company Drives Impact for People With Special Abilities
Gabi's Grounds Is Led by Gabi and Her Mom Mary Angelini
Devin: Gabi, what is your superpower.
Gabi: Being a hugger.
Devin: Mary, what’s your superpower?
Mary: I’m good at going around and telling people our story. You know, getting the word out there that people with special abilities are worthy and good workers and awesome.
Gabi’s Grounds and Gabi’s PALS
Gabi Angelini, the only girl in a home with five brothers, is different in another way. Her mom, Mary Angelini, says Gabi has special abilities.
Over 80 percent of people like Gabi are unemployed. Gabi wanted to work. She also has an entrepreneurial spirit. When finding a job proved impossible, Gabi wanted to start a restaurant.
Mary felt running a restaurant might be too big a challenge. After visiting a coffee shop that employed folks like Gabi, Mary suggested that as an alternative. Gabi said, “Let’s do it.”
For several years, the pair began raising money, building a nonprofit coffee brand called Gabi’s Grounds, and holding pop-up coffee shops at events.
Mary says, “We have a lot of merchandise, lots of shirts and stuff, and we do pop-ups. We’ll do hot coffee, we do...”
“Iced coffee,” Gabi interjects. When prompted by her mom, she rattles off flavors, “caramel, vanilla, chocolate.”
“Tiramisu and…” Mary adds before Gabi finishes with “Snickers.”
Gabi’s Grounds often holds pop-ups at conferences where Gabi speaks. She’s nonchalant about public speaking. “I don’t mind it. It’s just fun.”
Then covid. Gabi and Mary put plans for a coffee shop on hold.
Another opportunity popped up. The company was offered a small warehouse space on a month-to-month basis where it could do its packaging and shipping. This move got them out of the family’s garage. It also created an opportunity for connecting with people in a new way.
Quickly, Gabi and her friends found clients that wanted them to do similar packaging, assembly, labeling and shipping for businesses in their community in North Carolina. Gabi’s PALS, a new nonprofit, grew out of this opportunity.
Mary reports on the nonprofit’s impact:
“We're having a huge impact. One, we also pack at a warehouse that's about 30 minutes from here. We have 19 people working out there. [A client] said we've increased their productions by 60%. So we have a Raleigh location, we have a Creedmoor location. So our goal is to have many locations. Because I have people every single day emailing me, coming here, calling me, asking if their child can work with us because 82 percent of people of special abilities don't have a job. So we just want to employ as many people as possible.”
Hiring people like Gabi can be a delicate matter. Mary says the process begins with a conventional job interview. Mary doesn’t just talk to loved ones.
The next step is to have the candidate volunteer for an hour in the warehouse. Mary wants to see that they will enjoy the work, even though it is often difficult. “It’s dirty. Sometimes it’s hot. It’s not a posh environment.”
Usually, the candidates are thrilled to have an opportunity to work. “And they work so hard to keep that opportunity because they know the alternative is just sitting at home and doing nothing,” Mary says.
“We just need more clients, more work,” Mary says.
“And more companies to work with,” Gabi adds.
Mary and Gabi have superpowers that help them be effective in their work. Gabi is a hugger, and Mary is a storyteller.
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How to Develop Hugging As a Superpower
Hugging is, for Gabi, an on-the-field leadership tool.
Mary describes for Gabi’s benefit and ours how that works, “You’re a good leader. You’re good. You turn the music on, you get people happy and laughing and dancing. You’re good. You’re inspirational.”
Hugging is one aspect of building authentic relationships with teammates. While hugging is not appropriate in every workplace, you can achieve the impact it has on her work with other tactics.
By showing optimism and positivity along with genuine moral support, you can learn from Gabi to make teamwork a superpower for good.
How to Develop Storytelling As a Superpower
Mary says that telling their story is her superpower. She offers one central tenet for making this your superpower: “You’ve got to find your why.”
That passion or reason for doing the difficult things you do is essential for motivating yourself. You’ve got to find yours, Mary says.
To demonstrate, Mary recites what she describes as her why. “We do this so that we empower the people with special abilities so they can find fulfillment in everything they do.”
If you can find your passion, you can make anything a superpower to enable you to do more good.