By David Block
Former Philadelphia 76ers coach Brett Brown’s face lights up when he talks about his oldest daughter, Julia, who works at the GET Cafe in Narberth where she helps make coffee, works the cash register, and washes the dishes.
Julia Brown, 24, has a developmental disability, but that never prevented her from performing her duties.
Get Cafe, located in the heart of Narberth, is a coffee shop with the commitment to the gainful employment of individuals of all abilities.
“This job has given her a great self-worth that she never had before,” said Brett Brown. “Earning her own money, having to file a tax-return for the first time, and feeling like a productive member of society has made her so happy.”
Get Cafe owner Brooke Goodspeed added, “Julia is a wonderful addition to the family at GET Cafe. She’s responsible. She sets a great example for her other co-workers. She’s a joy to be around, and she’s wonderful with the customers.”
“I love serving the customers because they’re so nice,” said Julia.
Her father, who coached the 76ers from 2013 to August of this year, quipped that Julia is now the family’s primary breadwinner.
“She’s currently working and I’m not,” her father said, laughing. Because she has a job and he does not – at the moment – he sometimes teases her that she should pay the electric bill. “I’m kidding when I tell her that.”
The former coach became serious when he then said how he likes Get’s mission of giving people with disabilities jobs that pay. Brett said he leaves the cafe with great vibes.
“This is a very unique business that creates an attitude and perception in some ways where special needs people can offer a service and get paid,” said Brett Brown.
Brett’s wife Anna added that she loves GET’s variety of coffee and food.
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Goodspeed originally launched GET in Narberth as a community center in October 2015, offering classes such as writing, knitting, and drawing.
In January 2017, Goodspeed decided to expand the organization’s mission after a mother shared the story of her disabled son’s struggle to get promoted at work and showed her a news story about a cafe that hired people with disabilities.
Goodspeed understood the mother’s frustration firsthand because her son, Oliver, is a non-verbal 10-year-old with Down syndrome and autism. Whenever Goodspeed took him to the playground, some people stared. She said that Oliver only felt comfortable at the hospital —where doctors and nurses were familiar folks who treated him like a regular kid — and Penn Children’s Center, a preschool that provided a “most wonderful, accepting inclusive experience.”
“We saw how much that helped Oliver and how much his teachers and classmates grew from learning alongside him,” Goodspeed said.
She and her husband, Jon, set out to re-create that kind of environment where Oliver and other people with disabilities could be themselves without being judged.
GET Cafe at 246 Haverford Ave in Narberth was opened Valentine’s Day 2019.
Julia Brown enjoys seeing her friends at the GET Cafe, and she especially likes the GET Smoothies.
Recently, when Julia’s mother picked her daughter up after her shift, Julia asked if she could have a smoothie. Julia smiled when she heard her mother answer:
“Sure, with your own money.”
Julia excitedly took out the money to pay until the manager reminded her that she could have the drink for free because she was an employee.
For more information about GETincluded Inc, visit www.getincluded.org