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Randy and Friends opens its new coffee, gift shop

Nonprofit's new facility includes workspace, room for classes

POSTED: November 11, 2012 12:05 a.m.

Everyone has special a talent or ability; it’s just a matter of finding out what it is and then doing it.

One new local nonprofit aims to help people with disabilities find their own unique abilities by providing artistic, social and vocational training.

Randy and Friends Inc. is a nonprofit organization founded earlier this year that helps individuals with disabilities live satisfying and fulfilled lives. The training programs will help improve and increase their opportunities for employment and community involvement.

The organization intends to spotlight the unique abilities and skills of people with physical disabilities through its new coffee shop and gift store called The Rooster’s Perch.

Dozens of people came out Saturday morning to a grand opening celebration for The Rooster’s Perch.

Randy and Friends founder Randy Owens said he was pleased with the amount of people who woke up early on a Saturday morning to show their support for the organization. Owens was involved in a car accident when he was a small child that left him with physical disabilities.

Owens said people will enjoy spending time in the coffee shop now that the store is officially open.

“I just feel we have this homey feeling here; it’s laid-back. I like the old nature of the building, but it’s a cozy feeling,” Owens said.

The shop is located inside of an old iron foundry at 896 Main St., in Gainesville across from the Amtrack station and is open from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.

In addition to the coffee shop store front, there is a workshop space in the back with plenty of room for dance and creative classes, socials and a showroom space for hanging art pieces.

Jinx Scogin, a teacher and manager of The Rooster’s Perch, said the shop is a “wonderfully unique place” that will help young people with disabilities learn life skills and develop their creative interests.

“There is so much creativity, I’ve worked with disabled young people before and there is so much there that no body ever bothers to bring out,” Scogin said.

The vision statement for Randy and Friends is “they will not be overlooked any longer.” By helping people with disabilities foster their creativity, they won’t be overlooked because of their limitations anymore but recognized for what they can do instead.

“We’re looking to find where their abilities are and what their interests are in. What we’re introducing them to is a lot of different activities,” said Marty Owens, Randy’s mother and founder of Randy and Friends.

The group has a lot of plans for the new facility, including building a greenhouse and several raised garden beds inside of a fenced in area adjacent to the coffee shop. The group plans to begin raising funds for the project in the near future.

Adam Michelsen stood outside of a new coffee shop Saturday morning greeting visitors with a joke or a smile as they walked past.

He was selling plants he grew from clippings, a skill he learned from Randy and Friends.

Michelsen was involved in a two-vehicle accident when he was 16 years old. The accident left him with permanent brain damage and disabilities, or as he puts it, “discombobulated.”

Now 31, his goal is to be productive and he certainly is. He makes fishing lures out of beads, operated a bottled water company and tends plants in his garden.

The new shop gives men and women like Michelsen a venue to sell their crafts and creations and experience success for their work.

“Randy and Friends is the greatest place on earth, besides Disney World,” Michelsen said flashing a smile.


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