Amy Wright owns Bitty & Beau’s Coffee in Wilmington, North Carolina, and she came up with an interesting way to give back to the community by hiring 40 people with mental disabilities in Wilmington, North Carolina.
What was originally a family affair…
Wright wanted to address discrimination that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities can endure while looking for work, after coming across a study that claimed 70 percent of adults in that position do not have jobs.
Wright was also inspired to come up with this hiring pattern by her own family, as two out of four of her children, Beau and Bitty, the namesakes of the cafe, have Down syndrome.
Originally, the place had only been named “Beau’s Coffee,” but Beau himself asked for his younger sister to be included in the name for his 12th birthday present.
According to CNN, “It hit me like a lightning bolt: a coffee shop!” Wright explained, “I realized it would be the perfect environment for bringing people together. Seeing the staff taking orders, serving coffee—they’d realize how capable they are.”
“Our wait time is no longer than any of our competitors,” she added, “They’ve all gotten really good at their jobs and step up if somebody else needs help.”
“I think we can all agree that having a job makes you feel like you matter,” Wright said. “That’s how we all want to feel.”
‘An enjoyable, happy environment.’
“I’m proud to work here” said Matt Dean, one of the employees, who described the coffee shop as a place that shows “you don’t have to give up on your dreams.”
“I used to be very shy and introverted, didn’t want to chat with much people,” Dean told CNN. But having a place at the coffee shop, Dean says it’s helped him become more sociable.
Jessie, an employee, said she has cerebral palsy which affects the way she walks—“I always say I have a pep in my step”—and it was something she used to be made fun of for all the time. Her job at Beau’s is her first one.
“I have to work 10 times harder to get something done, but it feels good,” Jessie told CNN.
— Bitty & Beaus Coffee (@bittyandbeaus) January 27, 2017
According to their website, another worker, Stephanie added, “I like working at Bitty & Beau’s Coffee because I have new friends. I also make delicious frappes & cappuccinos.” Finally, another worker, Trevor, confirmed that he likes the attention that the shop is getting, saying, “I love my job because I feel famous. My favorite part is dancing to Justin Beiber.”
“We’re just like everybody else,” Jessie said. “I’m seeing people starting to understand that.”
Dean added, “Miss Amy, I think she’s changing the world. And I think I’m doing my part to change the world.”
Giving back to the community!
Reportedly, the money earned goes to Wright’s nonprofit group, Able to Work USA.
“Creating this has given people a way to interact with people with disabilities that [they] never had before,” said Wright. “This is a safe place where people can test the waters and realize how much more alike we are than different. And that’s what it’s all about.”