MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. — Kaja Thorton-Hunter has a big dream. To make her community better than how she found it.
“I grew up right here, born and raised in Muskegon Heights. So to be able to give back is just…an awesome feeling,” Thorton-Hunter said.
Kaja's mom was a schoolteacher at Muskegon Heights High School for 36 years. That example led Kaja to her newest journey: The Business Cafe.
“Bringing the nostalgia back. Bringing that community feel back. Where you can come and sit down and get a cup of coffee, and talk about your dreams and ambitions,” Thorton-Hunter said.
About a week ago, The Business Cafe opened. They serve coffee and simply ask for a donation in return. It's a place for people in Muskegon Heights to go and get some work done.
Mackenzee Baccaus came in to work on her up-and-coming graphic design business. She does iPhone repairs, computer repairs, and hopes to start a drone business.
“I think this is the first place people can actually go too, and feel comfortable,” Mackenzee Baccaus said.
The Business Cafe wears many hats. One-half is a workspace for anyone who needs one. The other half is home to the office of Overcoming Barriers.
Overcoming Barriers houses people with disabilities throughout the Muskegon Heights area. They needed a space to start their day programs and a space for those who live in their homes to go.
“We needed a place that was going to be warm and inviting, and we wanted to make sure that the individuals who live in our homes are part of the community,” Overcoming Barriers Director of Programming and Development, D'Erika Nichols-Woods said.
Director of Programming and Development D'Erika Nichols-Woods says it's been a learning experience for many.
Kids from the Muskegon Boys and Girls Club come in to do their homework. D'Erika says it was an important educational opportunity for kids to learn how to speak respectfully to people with disabilities.
One place, with many purposes, but at the heart of it all, it's about creating a space for the community to gather.
“If we can be a beacon of light on Barney and Maffet, that’s what we’re gonna do,” Thorton-Hunter said.