Our Town Pana: Brewin’ Hope Coffeehouse staffed by special needs community

Our Town 2020 - Pana

Pana, Ill. (WCIA)

When Tiffany Sims decided to open up a coffee shop in Our Town Pana, she knew she wanted to serve people more than just your average cup of Joe.

“I want them to gain hope,” Sims says.

That’s exactly what she’d do with the help of autism movement therapist, Erica Matthews.

Down the road at The Autism and Movement Project, Matthews was hard at work serving special needs students with a range of disabilities.

But she had a few concerns.

“I had been looking for years trying to find a job for my adults once they get out of high school,” Sims says. “I was kind of struggling trying to find places where they could meet their needs.”

With two thousand dollars, Sims and Matthews decided to spend six weeks opening up Brewin’ Hope Coffeehouse in the fall of 2019.

It was an effort that required the help of their neighbors.

“We had so many volunteers come up here and volunteer their time to paint, decorate…” Sims says. “It was really a community effort to get this thing going.”

Brewin’ Hope is more than just a coffeehouse– it’s a non-profit staffed by Pana’s and the surrounding towns’ special needs community.

“They absolutely love working here.” Matthews says. “They love meeting people. Their social skills have blossomed.”

Brewin’ Hope’s staff not only consists of employees with disabilities ranging from autism to cerebral palsy, but the team includes job coaches too, which help staff with everything from money to life skills and independence.

“They’ve gained so much from the short time we’ve been open,” Matthews says.

While unity and hope are two values that play into the shop’s mission, Sims says she hopes those values extend beyond the coffeehouse and into her community.

In fact, on the first Saturday of every month, Brewin’ Hope hosts a community prayer and unity drive where staff hands out ribbons for locals to tie to their car antennas.

“I have an attitude of gratitude,” says Simms. “I’m just so gracious and thankful, it just means a lot to show how much the community supports our mission.”

Brewin’ Hope Coffeehouse is currently open for carry out and outdoor seating on Saturday’s from 7am-11am. For updates on hours, you can follow their Facebook page HERE.

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