The second I walked into ExtraSpecialTeas in Great Barrington, MA, I felt happy. Their brand was front and center starting with the sunshine-yellow front door, and splashed everywhere with bright colors, cozy seating nooks, inspirational quotes on the walls, and smiling servers. And tea! So up my alley.

ExtraSpecialTeas (EST)  hosted a Chamber of Commerce mixer in advance of their grand opening on April 2, and they offered up their finest to the participants: iced Tiesta Tea, tea-infused shortbread cookies, and a variety of other finger foods. I understood the brand immediately. And then I heard their story.

EST is a vocational program for adults with autism and other special needs, AND a teahouse open to the Great Barrington community. Their servers, called “ExtraSpecial Servers,” work five days each week side-by-side with vocational trainers. Cherri and Scott Sanes, EST’s co-founders, were concerned with the lack of support for young adults with special needs once they “age out” of the school system. Their son, Jache, who has autism, had reached that stage. They founded EST for him and other adults who want to continue to learn, live with purpose, and be an active part of their community. Cherri and Scott, with the help of EST’s board of directors, plan to open several teahouses across the country.

I told Cherri that night that I wanted to help EST to get their message out. She graciously accepted my offer and we’ve been happily working hand-in-hand for the past three months.

Do me a favor: follow ExtraSpecialTeas on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram. And let me know if you pick up the vibe of their extra special teahouse: joyous; bright; and filled with purpose, possibility, and gratitude. If you live in or near the Berkshires, drop in for some tea! ExtraSpecialTeas is located at 2 Elm Street, Great Barrington, MA.