The "angel" refers to the organization behind the venutre, Shanghai Angels Salon, which helps autistic children and young people fit in better in society, mostly through music education -- it was founded by China's renowned conductor Cao Xiaoxia, who's also the head of Shanghai City Symphony Orchestra. A lot of their members have performed overseas. A-Coffee is their latest approach, which has been running not smoothly, but quite successfully, for the past few weeks.
On my visit, an enthusiastic volunteer (a mum in her 30s) told me they now have around 600 volunteers from all walks of life. Just when we were talking, an elderly man carrying his street artists performing license arrived, inquiring if it's possible for him to perform for these kids.
In mid-June, A-Coffee expanded to Pudong. Opening two new branches inside the office buildings Liangyou Building (良友大厦, minutes away from La Parisienne) and Lujiazui International Broadcast Center (陆家嘴国际传播中心) on Pudong Avenue.
According to Cao Xiaoxia, there's a shortage of professional autism education programs in Shanghai, and the foreign learning materials are often inadequate for Chinese autistic children. Despite seeing rapid improvement in the salon members, they have to feel their way forward carefully.
The young people here are the luckier ones, as they still have the ability to maintain basic contact with strangers. However, to communicate an idea properly requires a lot of patience. So A-Coffee is strictly open to Chinese-speaking volunteers only, from Monday to Friday (11am - 3pm). Prospective volunteers need to register and fill in the form through their WeChat account (ID: tszysl). Once you're qualified, they will put you in a group chat and arrange schedules. The tasks for volunteers: to talk patiently with the baristas, treat them like normal people instead of being too lenient, and, of course, enjoy the free coffee they make.
To donate, you can either go to A-Coffee directly (the one in Jing'an is on the first floor of Shanghai Youth center, right next to the Exit 4, Line 12/ Line 1 Hanzhong Lu station), or via WeChat Wallet on their WeChat account: click the "我要捐款" button, scroll down for the QR code, then click "我要支持".