Since it launched more than three years ago in Parkland, Fla., Rising Tide Car Wash has made a name for itself by giving job opportunities to people with autism.

Now the company’s story is being shared in a big way — and perhaps with a cup of Joe.

Starbucks is highlighting the business in one of a series of new, feel-good videos titled, “Upstanders,” available through the coffee chain’s mobile app, website and its YouTube account.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

The spots focus on “ordinary people doing extraordinary things to create positive change in their communities,” according to a news release.

“The upstanders featured in this series are inspiring individuals whose actions are emblematic of the American spirit and what is missing from so much of today’s national dialogue,” said Starbucks chief executive officer Howard Schultz in a statement. “… More of these stories need to be heard.”

The six-minute video shows a day in the life at Rising Tide Car Wash, which was founded by John D’Eri. He was inspired by his son, Andrew, who was diagnosed with autism when he was 2 1/2 years old.

“He is not going to be independent unless I can help him to be so,” John D’Eri said in the video, as he explains how he got the idea for the car wash while sitting in one. He thought that such an enterprise could help people like his son realize their potential and independence while making friends.

“…I am thinking to myself, ‘Andrew can do this back-end process without a doubt,'” added John D’Eri of his son, who is now 26.

Shot over two days in August, the video shows Andrew D’Eri drying cars and polishing tires with fellow employees at the business, as well as scenes from the family’s home life in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Older brother, Thomas D’Eri, who is in charge of the wash’s operations, also appears in the video.

“This is another way for us to empower folks in the (autism) spectrum, give people hope, and show that there are initiatives out there other than state-funded programs,” said John D’Eri in an interview.

The car wash has 35 employees who have autism. John D’Eri plans to expand with a second location in Margate, Fla. later this year. The total number of employees with autism at both locations would be 90, according to the company.

The Starbucks series also includes stories of a Michigan town where residents banded together to raise money for college scholarships, and of a 17-year-old Maryland girl who galvanized classmates and neighbors to stop a trash incinerator from being built in their community.

“The entire ‘Upstanders’ series is really designed to show the power of community, that even small contributions that have tiny starts can impact at a high level,” John D’Eri said.

© 2016 Sun Sentinel
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC