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Banquet raises cash for Our Neighbor to open a coffee shop and book store
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Our Neighbor Inc. is closing in on its goal of opening a coffee shop — and Friday’s benefit banquet will bring the organization one step closer.

The banquet, at the Chattahoochee Country Club, will raise money to help restore a recently purchased historic home at 328 Spring St. in Gainesville. The plan, said Our Neighbor founder Marty Owens, is to restore the property and open Books, Beans ‘n’ More, a coffee shop that also sells used books and serves desserts and light meals. Owens hopes to raise $100,000 from the banquet toward the cause.

"Our goal is to make more opportunities for young adults with disabilities," she said. "We’re hoping not only for opportunities for (residents of Randy’s House) to work, but in the long run we hope it will open the doors for other opportunities for them."

Motivational speaker Brad Cohen will be the featured guest at the banquet. Cohen, who has Tourette Syndrome, is a teacher in the Cobb County School district who trains teachers to be more effective educators. A former second- and third-grade teacher himself, Cohen has been featured on Oprah, "Inside Edition" and in People Magazine following the release of his 2005 book, "Front of the Class: How Tourette Syndrome Made Me the Teacher I Never Had."

"We hope it will encourage those who have disabilities to pursue their dreams and know they can accomplish their goals in life," Owens said. "We hope it will be informative not only to principals but everyone who has the ability to hire someone who has a disability — that they have a lot to offer."