Man With Autism Inspires With North Smithfield, RI Coffee Shop

NORTH SMITHFIELD, Rhode Island (WBZ NewsRadio) — Michael Coyne is living the dream.

Tired of constant rejection at job interviews, Coyne, who lives with autism and bipolar disorder, decided to open Red, White & Brew Coffeehouse in North Smithfield along with his parents.

"We are a family owned coffee shop serving up more than a cup of coffee," Red White & Brew's Facebook page reads. "We employ people with developmental disabilities, encourage community engagement, and change the way the world sees those with disabilities."

Coyne's loving the job.

"Everything's fun," he told WBZ NewsRadio's Kim Tunnicliffe. "Greeting people, getting pictures with everybody who I've inspired."

Now, the shop is an overnight sensation, and Coyne is advising others with disabilities to reach for their dreams.

"Follow your heart, let it lead you," he said. "You will become something that you dreamed of."

East Providence Police Inspector Craig Sroka drove the 20 minutes to North Smithfield just to meet Michael.

"It's probably the best thing he could've done, because he's getting more recognition than any other coffee shop that I know," Sroka said. "I came here just for a cup of coffee, and especially to meet Michael."

His mother, Sheila, said Michael has even received messages of support and thanks from half a world away.

"He has been contacted by a mom in Australia, saying how much hope she now has for her newly-diagnosed child with autism," she said. "I couldn't be more proud. I'm over the moon excited for him."

Parents are bringing their own children with autism into the coffee shop, because they feel accepted there. One mom said it's a place her son can just be himself.

"Meltdowns are welcome here," said one mom.

WBZ NewsRadio's Kim Tunnicliffe (@KimWBZ) reports

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