Gabe Finds His Fit at Starbucks

Gabe C., a member in Birch’s New Frontier program, shared that his favorite things about working at Starbucks is spending time with his co-workers. Coincidentally they feel the same way about him and decided to show their appreciation by nominating him as Partner of the Quarter for their Parkchester, Bronx location!  

Gabe joined New Frontier in 2022 and after working with his job coach on strategies to find and retain employment, he joined Starbucks as a barista where he has enjoyed working with his team.  

“I really love where I work because everyone there is really friendly,” said Gabe. “Everyone is willing to help everyone else.” 

Although Gabe has made many friends and has shown his co-workers he is always willing to help, he was surprised when his manager told him that he had not only been nominated for Partner of the Quarter, but that he won! 

“It got me really excited,” he said. “Everybody at work really supports me and everyone says I’m such a great partner to work with. It makes me feel happy, like I fit the part and I belong.”

Gabe gave credit to his parents as well as his job coach, Luigi Rivas, who helped Gabe update his resume and develop strategies to socialize at work and at home. Through New Frontier, Birch Family Services provides adults with autism and developmental disabilities with vocational preparation, job acquisition, and ongoing employer and employee support so they can thrive in both their job search and their chosen careers. Staff helps participants develop the skills needed to communicate appropriately and understand group social dynamics. 

“Prior to employment, Gabriel was a very shy guy. Working, especially in such an energetic environment like a coffee shop, has allowed him to develop more,” said Luigi. “He is now more outspoken and initiates conversations more often.”  

“I love Birch,” said Gabe. “When New Frontier helped me get the job at Starbucks, I was really happy.” 

Gabe also attends Hostos Community College in the Bronx where he is pursuing a degree in game design, which he plans to use for his future.

“I love playing video games and I want to be able to create my own games,” he said. “One day I want to make a club for children, especially for children with disabilities, who can learn how to play videogames and have fun together.” 

Gabe’s dream career was inspired by his parents, and he plans on using what he learned at New Frontier to help others.  

“My parents always told me to find something that really fit my interests, so videogames and helping other people are my passion,” he said. “I would love for my club to be able to also help children learn skills and figure out what they want to do.” 

With bright plans for his future, Gabe plans on continuing his work at Starbucks as he completes his degree.