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Wilmington coffee shop creates opportunity for individuals with disabilities

Published: Jan. 25, 2016 at 5:52 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 29, 2016 at 5:52 PM EST
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The Wright family and Beau's Coffee employees celebrated the grand opening with a ribbon...
The Wright family and Beau's Coffee employees celebrated the grand opening with a ribbon cutting ceremony. (Source: WECT)
The mission is to provide people with intellectual and developmental disabilities an...
The mission is to provide people with intellectual and developmental disabilities an opportunity to work. (Source: Beau's Coffee Facebook)
You can find the newly opened coffee shop on the corner of Wrightsville Avenue and Kerr Avenue....
You can find the newly opened coffee shop on the corner of Wrightsville Avenue and Kerr Avenue. (Source: Beau's Coffee Facebook)
The Wright family founded the business with inspiration from two of their four children, Beau...
The Wright family founded the business with inspiration from two of their four children, Beau and Bitty, who have down syndrome. (Source: Beau's Coffee Facebook)

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - There's a new place in town to get your morning cup of Joe and it's sure to leave you with a smile.

Beau's Coffee officially opened its doors Monday in Wilmington.

The Wright family founded the business with inspiration from two of their four children, Beau and Bitty, who have Down syndrome.

Their mission is to provide people with intellectual and developmental disabilities an opportunity to work and provide for themselves.

"This dream has been a little while in the making, so to have this day upon us has been just overwhelming," said Beau's Coffee founder Amy Wright. "I feel like I've been crying for 24 hours just out of joy!"

You can find the newly opened coffee shop on the corner of Wrightsville Avenue and Kerr Avenue with a line of people out the door and dozens of cars in the parking lot.

"We had about 200 orders in the first hour for the grand opening!" Wright cheered.

"We've been busy," commented Matt Dean, one of Beau's Coffee's cashiers. "I love it."

"The community has supported us already and we feel it," Wright added. "We always say that we can see hearts changing with every person that walks in the door."

The coffee shop is named after Wright and her husband's 11-year-old son, Beau. They say while he is not currently looking for a job, as parents they're aware of the need for jobs for people with Down syndrome and other disabilities.

"We thought Beau's Coffee would be a perfect place to provide job opportunities," Wright said. "At the same time, it brings the community together and shows everyone how awesome and capable our employees are."

Wright says statistics show 85 percent of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are unemployed. She's hoping to help change that with Beau's Coffee.

"I actually have a disability myself," added Dean. "I have a mild form of autism and I'm just so glad that Miss Amy and her husband Ben are doing this. It's very inspirational."

Beau's Coffee employees work every aspect of the shop from taking orders to making the lattes to keeping the store tidy.

"There are a lot of business that will hire people with intellectual disabilities, but a lot of the time they're put in the stock rooms or they're put behind the scenes." Wright explained. "While that's great, they have jobs, our mission is to put them out there on the front of the business and prove how great they are."

There are now 18 people employed with Beau's Coffee. They'll first complete six weeks of apprenticeship to make sure the position is a good fit for them. Thereafter, they'll receive a paycheck of their own.

"This seems like it's going to be an awesome experience," Dean said. "I am so glad I'm going to get paid to do this and to just help out with everything."

Wright has hired five people to be on her support staff as well. They have backgrounds in special education and are there to encourage the employees.

The Wrights hope this is only the beginning of a positive change for society. They hope to spread the Beau's Coffee message throughout Wilmington and aim to eventually set up shop in other cities across the country.

The goal? To get all of America smiling thanks to some of the most spirited and cheerful employees you'll ever meet.

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