Patrick Fitzgerald, a dynamic and loving young man who lives with autism, wanted to find a "real" job. He enrolled in the local community college's food service program, and working extremely hard, he was able to excel and graduated in 2018.
Unfortunately, Patrick and his parents, Mike and Terri discovered the ugly truth about the job market for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Despite a low unemployment rate for most workers, the unemployment rate for adults with IDD is ridiculously high. Employers were very hesitant to hire a hardworking and motivated worker like Patrick because they thought the little extra help he would need might be mildly disruptive to business.
For years, the Fitzgerald family prayed for a way to share the joy they experienced through Patrick and in serving others. Their prayers would be answered by the patron saint of caregivers, Brother André Bessette. Brother André also struggled to find employment in his youth because of his sickness and frailty but when given a chance went on to perform miracles.
Brother André's story inspired Patrick, Mike and Terri to open a coffee shop to be staffed by adults with IDD. The shop's name would be Brother André's Café.
In late 2019, Mike and Terri shared their idea with Father Chris Donley, a Pittsburgh diocesan priest and cofounder of Move a Mountain Missions (MMM). Father Chris saw the project as a natural extension of MMM's mission "to be Jesus for the most vulnerable all over the world" and invited the Fitzgeralds to make Brother André's Café a part of MMM. After the coronavirus pandemic delayed the grand opening, the team decided to launch Brother André's Cafe online in November of 2020.
We are so excited to share the many gifts of adults living with IDD disabilities with you!