[image-2]For a year I tutored a Down syndrome young man in Burlington, Vt. Always cheerful and quick to tell a joke, Chris was a pleasure to spend time with weekly. But at 22, he still lived with his parents and his opportunities for employment were limited. It was frustrating to think that the ever-smiling Chris, who loved to write stories about his dog and cook with his mom, might not be able to find a job simply because of his disability.

The same situation is faced by many people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and that’s why Amy Wright is bringing her popular Wilmington, North Carolina coffee shop to Charleston. Bitty & Beau’s Coffee is staffed by 40 IDD employees.

“It’s a place where diversity is not just appreciated, it’s celebrated,” Wright says in a press release.

A mother of four children (two with Down’s syndrome, Beau, 12, and Bitty, 7), Wright wanted to create more employment opportunities for people in similar circumstances. Thus the coffee shop was born.

Now, after relocating to a bigger location in Wilmington, Wright is ready to expand the business in Charleston and we’re told she’s looking for a location downtown. Wright hopes to open in the historic district this summer.

Bitty & Beau’s offers all the traditional coffee drinks — cappuccinos, lattes — in addition to sweets and smoothies. Each employee works part-time and is paid above minimum wage. Wright says she hopes to add benefits soon too.

Look for Bitty & Beau‘s to open later this year.

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