CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) – Bookworms can get their caffeine fix at the B3 Coffee kiosk inside Chapel Hill’s public library.
“I saw the way that coffee brings people together and really promote interaction across populations that might not otherwise interact,” said co-founder Jacqueline Boheler.
She and her husband, Gregory, co-founded B3 Coffee.
It’s a local nonprofit actively working to create an inclusive community.
The organization hires people with disabilities and disability allies, each learning something from the other.
The team is made up of about 40 people, but the coffee kiosk is just one facet of B3’s outreach. The group also hosts community social events, different classes offering life skills, and pop-up catering events.
“Many of our team members identify as having intellectual and developmental disabilities and the unemployment rate is around 80 percent for that population,” said Jacqueline Boheler.
It’s a huge need the Bohelers are trying to address.
B3’s motto is the following: being, belong, becoming.
The coffee connoisseurs provide jobs to a group some employers may shy away from hiring. They keep a diverse staff on all levels of the organization.
“Our operations team we have people with disabilities our board of directors we have people with disabilities,” said Gregory Boheler.
Joey sits on the board of directors. His team says he’s extremely creative and is always coming up with ideas.
“How can we do this better how can we not do better,” Joey added.
The Bohelers know firsthand what it’s like living with a disability and they’re breaking systemic stigmas.
“I’m autistic so I’m an individual with a disability. We don’t like the idea of there being a non-disabled person managing a disabled person. Representation and visibility on all levels of our organization is super important,” said Gregory Boheler.
Jacqueline Boheler is neurodivergent, and for she and her husband, it’s about creating access for group that’s been marginalized, but also preparing them for what’s next.
B3 works on a paid internship model. Employees spend a semester working then ultimately move on to full-time jobs.
“This is building skills this is getting experience and then we hope to connect them on the backend with local employers that are interested inclusive hiring. We can rotate our team members in and then send them off into the community get employment at other places. we’re maximizing our impact,” said Gregory Boheler.
B3 is hosting its grand opening Saturday, July 9 from 10 a.m. – 4 a.m. They’re giving out a free cup of coffee to their first 50 customers during disability pride month.