Arc of the Bay celebrates opening of ‘!nklusion Cafe’ at Gulf Coast State College

Panama City

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB)– October kicks National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and Arc of the Bay is working hard to ensure that there is equal opportunity for all within the Bay County community.

Friday, Arc of the Bay will be celebrating the grand opening of their first-ever Empowerment Cafe and the second !nklusion Coffee Shop. Both venues are located within Gulf Coast State College at the Student Union Building on the east side.

The grand opening event will take place Friday, Oct. 1, at 10 a.m. All menu items will be half price and there will be exciting giveaways.

The coffee shop and cafe are open to the general public, and it is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The cafe and coffee shop will employ 14 community members with special needs, all of who learn skills through Arc of the Bay.

“We are embracing disability inclusion, we are giving 14 of our graduates the ability to take the skills they use in our program and put them to work,” said Executive Director for Arc of the Bay, Ron Sharpe.

Justin Rigdon is a 2020 graduate of the Arc of the Bay Culinary Institute and will be working in the location as a waiter.

“It’s awesome! I’m so excited to see all the people come,” said Justin.

His mother, Terry Rigdon, said she is forever grateful for the opportunity that Arc of the Bay has given Justin, as he is now able to lead a more independent life.

“It’s an awesome feeling for him to get out into the community, and show that his ability is just like all of us who go to work,” said Terry.

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