Cool Beans, Hot Coffee, Warm Friendships

Kyle McGee and his communication partner, Michael Richards
Kyle McGee and his communication partner, Michael Richards

Thanks to a coffee cart business called Kyle’s Cool Beans, associates and guests at Ascension St. Vincent’s One Nineteen can purchase a morning cup of java, enjoy a visit with the proprietor, and go about their day with a smile.

The Cool Beans story began seven years ago when Veronica McGee was searching for a place where her son Kyle, an Oak Mountain High School student, could work on his pre-employment and communication goals. Kyle and his family were members of One Nineteen.

“Kyle wanted to have inclusive experiences in his own community where he could learn work skills, spend time with his friends, and develop lifelong relationships with people who were also One Nineteen members and associates,” his mother said.

So, Kyle, who was born with hydrocephalus, became a One Nineteen volunteer.

Fast forward five years. Kyle decided, along with his transition specialist and job coach, Wendy Betsch, that he wanted to start his own business and hopefully earn a good wage to help support his lifestyle. And that was the beginning of Kyle’s Cool Beans.

One Nineteen management loved the idea of Kyle providing freshly brewed coffee to their guests and associates. Now four mornings a week, Kyle and his communication partner, Michael Richards, offer a delicious blend of coffee, along with a choice of flavorings and fixings.

“I believe Kyle wants to give his customers a piece of happiness and to have the best day possible,” said Veronica. “It’s Kyle’s contribution to his community.”

One of the Cool Beans’ regulars is Carter Wood, who met Kyle when he was delivering towels to the One Nineteen guests. Wood, along with fellow Ascension St. Vincent’s Foundation Board members, provided start-up costs for Kyle’s Cool Beans through the Foundation’s new Serving Together Grants program.

“Kyle is a great guy,” Wood said. “He’s somebody who makes you feel good whenever you’re around him, and he communicates friendship in his own way. Kyle touches my heart.”

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