Coffeed, the Long Island City-based philanthropic artisanal coffee company, is teaming with Julia Maidman, a 20-year-old with autism and a passion for baking, to produce and sell thousands of cookies to bring hope to families and people of all ages who are living with autism.
The team at Coffeed along with Julia’s Kitchen, which Maidman runs, will bake chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies. The sweet treats are on sale now through the end of April, which is Autism Awareness Month, online at JuliasCookies.org and at Coffeed locations across the city.
“Julia, our master baker, is delighted to share her delicious cookies, the result of great devotion, hard work and the desire to ‘bake’ us happy,” Maidman’s mother Arlene said. “This has been her passion since she took her first cooking class three years ago.”
Proceeds from the cookie sales will benefit Next for Autism, a nonprofit that creates and supports innovative programs for individuals with autism and their families nationally; and Coffeed’s longtime community partner Community Mainstreaming, a Long Island-based nonprofit that helps people with intellectual and developmental disabilities lead meaningful, productive lives within their communities through individualized and person centered supports for home and work.
“Julia has shown that it’s possible for young adults with autism to learn skills that could lead to purposeful work,” Next for Autism President Ilene Lainer said. “Young adults with autism face significant hurdles to employment. They lack training and the proper supports to help them thrive. That’s the reason Next for Autism is intently focused on creating programs that empower young adults with choices and opportunities to fulfill their potential and become participating members of our community.”
Frank “Turtle” Raffaele and a group of friends started Coffeed in 2012 as a for-profit with a charitable component with 5 to 10 percent of its gross revenue going to charities such as the Refugee and Immigrant Fund based in Astoria, the New York Foundling, and City Growers. In addition to supporting the charitable organizations, Coffeed staffs its locations with the people they serve.
“We are committed to hiring people in the community with disabilities,” Raffaele said.
Each Sunday for the past six months, Coffeed co-founder Abe King picks up Maidman and other young cooks from their home and brings them to the company’s industrial kitchen in Long Island City, where they produce the cookies.
“Owners and managers need to realize they are in a meaningful position that can make a difference in the lives of this group and at the same time bring tremendous benefits to themselves and their business,” King said. “People with disabilities have tremendous untapped abilities. We all have, or will have, disabilities at some point in our lives and the humanity we show others is what counts.”