Gabi Angelini, a 20-year-old with Down syndrome, is about to become the proud owner of North Carolina's latest coffee shop.
"When people drink my coffee, they’ll get a warm hug," Gabi said. "Oh yeah, I’m a hugger."
Gabi’s journey to owning her own coffee shop began when she graduated high school and found it was especially difficult to get hired.
"Last summer, I was trying to get a job but they didn’t hire me because I have a disability," Gabi said.
While she already held a part time job as a bagger at a local grocery store, Gabi said it was hard for her to pick up extra shifts or get hired for a full-time position.
Gabi also began noticing that her friends, who also suffer from physical and mental disabilities, were also having difficulty finding jobs.
"That just solidified that if I want her to be successful, we’re going to have to make it happen," said her mom, Mary Angelini. "I do feel that kids with disabilities are misunderstood. I think they just need to be given a chance."
From a young age, Gabi has dreamed of opening a restaurant, but her mom suggested they tackle a smaller project first, like coffee and baked goods.
"She said, 'Let's do it,'" Mary recalled.
From there, Gabi's Grounds came to life, and the soon-to-be business owner imagines hiring all her friends to work with her, and host events like karaoke nights and dance parties.
"We’re going to have a fun time together and sing and dance a lot," Gabi said.
Mary reassured, "These kids are great employees, so we’re going to have a fantastic work force."
So far, Gabi has her own blend through a partnership with a local coffee shop that she delivers personally and sells at events. With the money from sales and additional fundraising efforts, she plans to open her café by next year.
To support Gabi’s mission, visit her GoFundMe page.