In a world where entire countries are praised for eliminating children with down syndrome from their population, Amy Wright is defending her family’s right to exist in a powerful and innovative way that is proving how much better the world is when we embrace our differences without judgment or fear.
Amy Wright is a mother of four and the owner of Bitty & Beau’s Coffee in Wilmington, North Carolina. The coffee shop is named after two of Amy’s children – Bitty and Beau – who just so happen to have down syndrome. When Amy and her husband learned that 70% of adults with developmental disabilities are unemployed, she wanted to do something about it.
The coffee shop opened in January of 2016, and was wildly successful from day one. Even though the majority of employees have some sort of intellectual or developmental disabilities, Bitty & Beau’s Coffee keeps stride with their competitors when it comes to fast, friendly service. “Our wait time is no longer than any of our competitors,” Amy shared in an interview. “They’ve all gotten really good at their jobs and step up if somebody else needs help.”
All the profits from Bitty & Beau’s Coffee goes to fund Amy’s nonprofit organization called Able to Work USA, which helps individuals with intellectual and development disabilities across the country find meaningful employment. Amy has been blown away by how her efforts have become a catalyst for growth in her own community. “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.”
The coffee shop, which needed to move to a larger location just six months after opening due to its incredible success, will soon be opening a branch in Charleston, South Carolina in the coming months. Amy attributes the success of the coffee shop to the warmth and joy that her wonderful team exudes in every interaction they have with customers. “They genuinely are happy that you’re there, and they make you feel that way,” Amy says. “That’s a feeling most people don’t get anywhere that they go, and I think it’s what draws people back.”