The beans have been ground and the coffee poured at “Plymouth Grounds,” the non-profit coffee shop at Plymouth Church.
Although the coffee and homemade pastries are fantastic, the real element that makes this coffee shop blessed is that it is run entirely by students at Ruby Van Meter, a school for students with special needs, in Des Moines.
“It’s not about the money,” says Melinda Collins, who is the work experience coordinator at the school. “We don’t make much. Actually we just make enough to continue to stock the shop with supplies. It’s entirely about giving the kids an opportunity to gain work experience providing opportunities for them to learn social and communication skills.”
Plymouth Grounds serves everything from brewed coffees, lattes, cappuccinos and hot chocolate to smoothies, homemade pastries and other specialties. The coffee shop is the brainchild of Collins, who says when she suggested it to Plymouth Church they were on board immediately.
“Ruby Van Meter students have worked at Plymouth Church for several years and mainly did clerical jobs. There was a coffee shop that had closed and the space had been vacant for several years,” she recalls. “When I approached them to using it as an area of instruction for the students, they were on board entirely. Plymouth Church’s mission has always been that ‘All are welcome,’ so the idea was consistent with what the church’s mission strives for.”
Because this is a community effort, Plymouth volunteers and congregation members work alongside the students to provide support and learning opportunities. It’s always been about more than just the coffee. Students are constantly grinding beans, washing dishes, making change, reading and baking recipes and, of course, taste testing.
“Customers not only leave the shop with something delicious in hand but also with the satisfaction of knowing they have contributed to the success of these students with special needs,” say Collins.
The shop is located in the church at 4126 Ingersoll Ave. and is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to noon. For more information about the coffee shop or other events at Plymouth, visit the website at www.plymouthchurch.com.