November 4, 2014

Beneficial Beans® Café worker Jon Sonneveldt
Beneficial Beans® Café worker Jon Sonneveldt

Phoenix, Arizona — A unique entrepreneurial business run by adults with autism spectrum disorder resulted in The Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center capturing an “Employer of the Year” honor.

The 28th annual Scottsdale, Ariz., Mayor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities awards program pays tribute to The Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center for establishing the Beneficial Beans® Café. The awards program honors people with disabilities, as well as recognizes organizations and individuals committed to their advancement.

The center is an internationally recognized nonprofit organization dedicated to autism research, education, evidence-based treatment and community outreach. The Beneficial Beans® Cafe provides a venue for center participants to learn hands-on skills in customer service, cash handling and barista training. The café opened in July 2012 and is located in the Scottsdale Civic Center Library. Café proceeds support job-skills training programs. The video below is about the Beneficial Beans® Café.

According to the center’s website, autism spectrum disorder is a pervasive developmental disorder characterized by social impairments, communication difficulties and restricted, repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior.

A ceremony honoring the center was recently held.

Other award recipients:

  • Employee of the Year – Kelli Brown, Fry’s Marketplace
  • Teacher of the Year – Ginny Dauler-Phinney, Scottsdale Unified School District
  • Para-Educator of the Year – Warren M. Rice, Coronado High School
  • Exemplar of the Year – Mary Hadsall, Camelot Therapeutic Horsemanship


Beneficial Beans® Café worker Jon Sonneveldt
Beneficial Beans® Café worker Jon Sonneveldt

In addition, the following people will receive scholarships:

  • Shelby Nelson – Northern Arizona University, Hospitality Management
  • Lisa Priest – Scottsdale Community College, Nursing
  • Steve Schwartz – Scottsdale Community College, General Studies

About SARRC:

The Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center, founded in 1997, is a nonprofit, community-based organization in Phoenix, Arizona, dedicated to autism research, education and outreach to individuals with autism and their families. SARRC undertakes self-directed and collaborative research, serves as a satellite site for national and international projects, and provides up-to-date information, training and assistance to families and professionals about autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). For more information, visit




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