Mikelle met Ian Harwick when he was working at Starbucks. Mikelle and her mother, Katherine, would visit Ian and fellow barista Chelsea Frye at Starbucks, and they became the first roots of Mikelle’s new community after high school. Ian is now like a brother to Mikelle, and they have seen each other through thick and thin. The following is an excerpt from Ian’s story.
I’ve known Mikelle for 6 years now. I was working as a barista at Starbucks at the time. Katherine, a regular customer, came to know myself, Chelsea and others that worked there. We shared a similar brand of idealism and our ideas about life really solidified the connection.
As time went by, Katherine shared stories of both her son, Kasey, and Mikelle. I learned Mikelle was graduating from East High School as Outstanding Senior, had been doing presentations around the country and had tons of handsome guys who were her friends. And, by the way, she used a wheelchair and had an amazing piece of technology that helped her communicate. Katherine’s description of Mikelle made me curious.
Katherine didn’t bring her in right away to meet us, she waited until she felt like it was a good time, then she brought Mikelle into a safe community that already knew of her.
The next time that I met Mikelle was at her Group Action Plan (GAP) session. Her high school friends, her banker and other people who had known Mikelle since she was young were all invited to help Mikelle create her life after high school. Many were like me, they didn’t have much previous experience with a person with a disability.