By Kathy Walsh
DENVER (CBS4) – Dirt Coffee. It doesn’t sound very appetizing, but it offers individuals with autism the jolt they need to get into the job market. The folks who run this company are coming Together 4 Colorado by giving those on the spectrum the skills to succeed.
“Beautiful day out in the city today, huh?” Daniel Boone said as he leaned out of a truck window to hand off a cup of fresh brewed coffee.
Outside the Xcel Energy offices in downtown Denver, people were lining up for a pick-me-up. At this coffee truck, every order comes with a side of enthusiasm.
“I’m having a fantastic morning,” said Daniel. “Thank you! Have a magical day, sir.”
Daniel Boone is an outgoing young man and like his namesake, he is a trailblazer.
“I’ve been doing it for like 3 years now,” he told CBS 4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.
Daniel is on the autism spectrum and he is one of the first employees of Dirt Coffee, a nonprofit with a mission to train and employ adults with autism. Why Dirt?
“We are all about building a foundation, planting seeds that inspire and cultivate growth,” explained 32-year-old Lauren Burgess who got Dirt off the ground in 2013.
Now, renovations are underway on a Dirt Coffee Bar in downtown Littleton.
The workers include Ryan Adams and Josh Monagle. Both are on the autism spectrum.
“Sometimes I feel like I don’t fit in,” said Josh.
But he’s found a place with the nonprofit TACT, Teaching the Autism Community Trades. Founder Danny Combs has a son with autism.
“There’s a 90% unemployment rate among the autism community,” said Combs.
But Combs says construction jobs are plentiful.
“We’re giving our community something they can do for employment and fulfillment and be happy,” Combs added.
You can’t be much happier than train-lover Daniel Boone.
“I’ve been working my caboose off for a couple years now,” he said.
He was Dirt’s Employee of the Year in 2016. Instead of a plaque, he got a conductor’s hat.
“It’s wonderful,” Burgess said, blinking back tears.
She gets emotional when she talks about Daniel and others on the spectrum she employs. This is her shot at changing perspectives and empowering individuals with autism. She is doing it cup by cup.
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Stay up to date on Dirt’s buildout and progress through their Facebook page. Visit Dirt online to order coffee, mugs and see where their truck is going to be at www.dirtcoffee.org. You can directly support Dirt’s mission by donating online here. All donations are tax deductible and 100% of the proceeds will go directly to helping Dirt get their doors open to train and employ more adults with autism.
To donate to TACT go to www.buildwithtact.org/