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Java Jam waterfront concert in Grand Haven raises money for Kenzie's Be Cafe

Kenzie's Be Cafe gives people with disabilities meaningful employment, along with life skills and job training.

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. — The Grand Haven Channel and the downtown area were alive with music Thursday night as hundreds of people packed Lynne Sherwood Waterfront Stadium for the second annual Java Jam.

The event is a fully-inclusive benefit concert the benefits Kenzie's Be Cafe. The cafe is named for Makenzie Aney, a young lady with an infectious smile who just happens to be in a wheelchair. Kenzie's Be Cafe provides meaningful employment, job training, and life skills to people with disabilities.

"Our goal is to get people jobs out in the community after training with us for about a year or two," said Erin Lyon who serves as the executive director for the cafe's parent organization, BErista, Inc.

"My soul is fulfilled here each and every day with all of our BEristas. Makenzie, when she came into our life, she changed my view of the world. When you have somebody in a wheelchair in your life, you started seeing things differently. And so we're so happy that we can provide a place where everyone's accepted, everyone's able to do their job, no matter their ability or disability."

Lyon said people with disabilities don't want to "just be beneficiaries of the system." They want to give back and contribute to their communities.

"We're seeing the real confidence they've gained, the autonomy, the skills they've learned. A couple of our employees have other jobs outside of Kenzie's, and they've been asked to do more hours at those jobs because of what they're doing at Kenzie's, the confidence they've learned, and they skills they've gained. They're rock stars," Lyon said.

If you'd like to support Kenzie's Be Cafe but did not get to attend Thursday's concert, you can visit their Grand Haven location at 1103 Washington Avenue. You can also visit their website to find out how to donate and volunteer.


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