Life can be really hard and sometimes overwhelming, but if you are a person with a certain disability, then your chances for a normal life are significantly lower. Finding a job can be very difficult for such person and according to statistics over 80% of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) are unemployed.
Therefore, Amy Wright, a mother of two with Down syndrome, Bitty and Beau, decided to open a coffee shop and named it after them. She started it up in January 2016, Wilmington, N.C, and this coffee shop created a path for all adults with intellectual and developmental disabilitiesto become more valued, accepted and included in society.
“It hit me like a lightning bolt: a coffee shop! 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.”
The coffee shop started with 18 employees, but the business went well and the number of employees increased up to 40. She was awarded for her dedication to work for people with disabilities receiving the CNN Hero of the Year Award. It was a financial award of $100,000 that was contributed to her greater cause.
“Creating this has given people a way to interact with people with disabilities that (they) never had before. 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.”
Due to the great success another coffee shop was opened in February 2018 in Charleston, S.C., which currently employs around 80 people.
This is not the last coffee shop, on 20thJanuary; the third Bitty & Beau’s Coffee was opened in Savannah, Ga. This coffee shop attracted some celebrities and now it is officially called as the “Rachel Ray Show.”It has opening hours from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Wright does not stop here, she intends to open shops all over the country in the following next few years:
“Our hope is that other businesses will see our success and realize the importance and benefit of hiring people with intellectual disabilities. When other businesses begin to hire people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, this will truly affect the unemployment epidemic.”