SURPRISE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - A Valley man who has Down syndrome is close to opening up his own coffee shop, and some specialty T-shirts are helping him raise the cash to get started.

Spencer’s Place still has a little bit of remodeling to do in its space next to the Bashas' on Waddell Road in Surprise (it used to be a paint-your-own-pottery place). When it opens, the unique coffee shop will employ about 10 adults who have special needs.

[WATCH:Coffee shop in Surprise to hire special-needs adults]

“People will be happy and be glad, put a smile on your face and become one with each other,” said Spencer Nickell, the 28-year-old for whom the place is named.

Spencer’s Place is an idea his mom, Karin York, came up with years ago. As a special education teacher, she dreamed up the coffee shop as something to help Spencer live a fulfilling life as an adult. His soon-to-be coworkers is an ensemble of her former special ed students.

“I’m hoping that once they’re employed... they [will] have that confidence to take it to what they truly want to do,” she said.

And now, the T-shirts; they were designed by Spencer and some of his family members and friends.

“That’s me and a heart, for God, and the coffee cup there,” Nickell said as he showed us one of the designs. Paper Clouds Apparel is an Arizona nonprofit that partners with a different special-needs cause every two weeks.

They put the artwork on made-to-order T-shirts and then give 50% of the proceeds right back to the cause – in this case, Spencer’s Place.

“When they’re done being printed we actually hire adults with special needs to fold and package them,” said CEO Robert Thornton. “So we actually help bring jobs to those who have a hard time finding employment.”

The two-week run for the Spencer’s Place campaign ends on Sunday, May 19. You can place an order here.

York says Nickell has been feeling like a celebrity with his artwork all over the T-shirts.

“He’s like my role model because his heart is so pure and it is so bright,” York said.

“People will be excited to be happy for me and and it will also be awesome to other people,” Nickell said.

 


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