“We call April Autism Acceptance Month.” Nila Benito, the mother of our cafe artist Joseph Benito, gently informed me via Facebook messenger.

“The link above explains why and this is an excerpt: ‘Autism Acceptance Month was created by and for the autistic community to change the conversation around autism, shifting it away from stigmatizing “autism awareness” language’.”

It has been over 20 years since my “Exceptional People” course.

Like most languages, sciences and cultures, things change.

Thank God things change. Thoughts and people evolve on topics and issues.

Ms. Benito was re-educating me on how the language and perspectives have evolved and I’m so grateful for that.
All About Syrius

I’d like to tell you more about an exceptional employee we have in The Cafe. Like the sound of his name, he takes his job very “seriously”.

Our cafe barista Syrius is a jack of all trades. He likes to stay busy. He can make sandwiches and lattes; and he really loves to vacuum. We love that he loves that!

When left to his own devices, Syrius likes to explore The Portico Campus. During his first week of work, he wandered into our 2nd Floor Flex Space. If you clicked the link you can guess what’s coming next. Here’s the story…

I was working in my office when I heard what I thought to be someone’s child at the piano. This “child”, I thought was happily banging away at keys as happy children do, pretending to play the piano. I didn’t mind. I mean, it’s The Portico. Things like this happen here.

And then the banging got a bit more organized…like “this child” was some sort of musical savant who, in less than 2 minutes, discovered how to play the piano.

Like it was Chopin at the piano y’all! Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but close.
In that moment, I knew it was our exceptional barista, Syrius!
Of course I was beyond impressed, but I re-directed him back to his barista work.
Syrius has been working with us for about six weeks now; and he’s made quite an impression on me. He continues to show me how capable he is and about what’s important to him.
I’m learning and evolving so much. I love it!

Read more about Syrius below.

6 p.m. Fri., Apr. 22 | Art + Open Mic Night at The Portico Cafe

I hope his mom, Deanna, sees this and brings him out to our Art + Open Mic event tomorrow night for Fourth Friday Downtown.

Maybe he can bang on the keyboard a bit? You never know what may happen.
He’s my new, exceptionally exceptional, friend.

I think he would love open mic night. If you join me, I think you’d love it (and Syrius) too.


Chalette M. Davis
Events & Missions
The Portico
O: 813.222.2299 | M: 813.951.6974
1001 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, FL 33602
Conversation. Connection. Community Change.

P.S. This is the last open mic night before the summer break so if you miss this one, remember well pick it back up in the fall.

Read more here.