Bitty and Beau’s Coffee Shop, is getting national attention 

I delight to read about a Mom and Pop coffee shop now open at 159 Church Street, Charleston, S.Carolina. Ben and Amy Wright own the shop. The Wrights go out of their way to hire team members with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Because of this they are getting national attention. On Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017 CNN named Amy Wright  Hero of the Year for her efforts to advocate for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Wright received $10,000 to grow her cause.

Bitty and Beau’s began in Wilmington, N.C. 

Ben and Amy Wright opened their first Bitty and Beau’s in Wilmington, S.C. in January, 2016. Their B and B coffee shop employs 40 people with IDD. They named the shop after their two youngest children, Bitty and Beau, who both have Down Syndrome. The Wrights value their children and dedicate their lives to making the world a better place for them and others living with IDD. As quoted in an article in Christianity Today, Amy and Ben do not believe their children are ‘broken’. Rather, it is the lens through which we view them that needs repair, they say

The Wrights are planning to open more shops

The Wrights currently plan to open yet another shop. They are scouting for a new location and  hope to have their next shop open by the end of this year. “We hope to have shops all over the country one day, where we employ people with disabilities,”says Amy. “We also want to bring people together with and without disabilities so they can see how their lives have value just like everybody else’s.”

Hiring people with IDD

Wherever I live and work I encounter people young and old with IDD. My first such acquaintance was with Eddie, a 16 year old placed by social services to work on our family’s dairy farm in the 1940’s and 50’s. Eddie had the intellect of a 10 year old. He worked hard at his job and remained a ward of my parents until he died.That, I know, was a long time ago in a very different work setting. Very few such jobs are available now.

Resources are available

However we all need to join the Wrights to help IDD individuals find employment. There are resources. Examples include

  • sheltered workplaces, such as bulk mailing
  • special industries, e.g. cleaning, landscaping, packaging
  • supported employment sites that provide coaching and support
  • local businesses, e.g. grocery stores, garden centers
  • businesses that take advantage of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit to hire IDD people

The point: many of us can do more than we think