A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Coffee was all it took to help The Point-Perk’s Riley Hurst come out of his shell, find his ‘niche’

Riley Hurst came to The Point/Arc to communicate, make friends and come out of his shell.

Who knew coffee was the key?

The 19-year-old resident of Ft. Wright admits he had a hard time making friends.

“I was a quiet kid,” said the graduate of Covington Catholic High School. “I am on the Autism Spectrum,” he added, “and my mom thought it best for me to at least visit The Point/Arc. She thought it would help me socially.”

At first, Riley said he did some programming activities at the non-profit organization.

Riley Hurst

Then he discovered Point-Perk.

The Perk is one of four social enterprises offered at The Point/Arc. Located at 45 W. Pike Street in Covington, it opened in 2015, “as a way for the community to come in for a feel-good cup of coffee, and to see our mission in action,” said Judi Gerding, Founder and President of The Point/Arc.

The other enterprises are The Point Commercial Cleaning Company and Employment Program to provide job training, placement and life-long follow-up, The Commercial Laundry and The Point Apparel Company.

Riley paid a visit to the Perk – and never left.

He can be found behind-the-counter as a barista/cashier. He works at The Perk Tuesday, Wednesday and Fridays – 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. – and every other Saturday.

“You can say, I’ve found my niche,” he said.

“I’ve been communicating with people while taking orders and making different drinks as well as lattes,” he said.

And when he’s not at The Perk, Riley Hurst is working on his Payroll Accounting Certificate and General Business Certificate at Gateway Community and Technical College.

“After I get my certificate,” he said, “I’m looking for a full-time permanent job.”

The Point/Arc has changed Riley Hurst – he’s involved in Community Connection once a month.

He bowls with a group at Newport on the Levee.

And he admits he even attended the recent Valentine’s Day Dance The Point/Arc hosted at The Gardens of Park Hills.

“I loved it, and had a wonderful experience,” he said.

Riley Hurst has come a long way from his days at St. Agnes School. He even performed at Atria Highland Crossing – an independent and assisted living retirement community – during Christmas.

“I play piano,” he said.

The Point/Arc was founded in 1972 by a group of parents fighting for the educational rights of their children, who were diagnosed with an intellectual and developmental (I/DD) disability.

The mission – to help people with disabilities achieve their highest potential educationally, socially, residentially and vocationally. More than this, The Point/Arc has been an organization that identifies gaps in services and provides care and support to fill these gaps – even when government funding sources are not available.

Riley Hurst could be the poster child for the organization’s success.

The Point/Arc

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