The Paycheck Protection Program established by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act has helped countless small businesses across the nation during the coronavirus pandemic, including a coffee shop that offers jobs to individuals with special needs.
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka hosted several small business owners, including Bitty & Beau’s Coffee owner Amy Wright, to discuss how the stimulus package will affect them in the coming months.
Wright joined the president and Ivanka on stage while one of her employees, Michael Heup, approached the podium to deliver a thoughtful and heartfelt message.
“Thank you, Mr. President, for having us. I love my job and I’m excited about going back to work. At Bitty & Beau’s we like to use the phrase called ‘not broken.’ That means me and all my amazing coworkers are not broken, and we have lots to offer,” Heup said.
“I know the great country of the United States isn’t broken either. So on behalf of myself, Megan, and Amy and all the employees of Bitty & Beau’s, thank you for inviting us over.”
According to the shop’s website, Wright opened the first Bitty & Beau’s Coffee shop in January 2016 in Wilmington, North Carolina. She wanted to use the coffee shop to fight for those with developmental and intellectual disabilities, like her two youngest children, who both have Down syndrome.
“As advocates for the value, inclusion and acceptance of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, the Wrights have dedicated their lives to making the world a better place for their children and others living with disabilities,” the website states.
Wright saw the invitation to the White House as another opportunity to advocate for her 120 employees whose jobs were saved by Trump’s stimulus package — and others with disabilities who are still unemployed.
Meet Michael from @bittyandbeaus. He stole the show today – he’s an inspiration as is his employer, small business owner Amy!
Because of PPP this unique 5 shop coffee chain could rehire their 120 employees, incl Michael, & cont. to brighten the days of each of their customers! pic.twitter.com/AQyZvO8YH0
— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) April 28, 2020
“Bitty & Beau’s Coffee is more than a coffee shop; it’s a human rights movement. We employ 120 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. And for most of them, it’s their first paying job, which made the decision for us to temporarily close all five of our shops especially difficult,” Wright said.
“But thanks to the Paycheck Protection Program and the incredible team at Live Oak Bank, all 120 of our employees are back on the payroll today and working from home, writing handwritten notes that we include with each online order we ship.”
“As a recipient of the PPP loan, we will continue to take up the charge and help everyone, especially people with disabilities, pursue the American Dream,” Wright said.
The first daughter commended Wright and Bitty & Beau’s Coffee for exemplifying what it means to be a small business in America.
“She has created an amazing business that — that stemmed from personal experience and very much her — her heart. And it’s been an honor getting to know you, Amy. As you embody the spirit of small business around this country,” Ivanka said while introducing Wright.
Bitty and Beau’s shared a photo on Facebook of Heup during the White House meeting with the hashtag #notbroken, which quickly received plenty of love and support.
The $2.2 trillion CARES Act, which was signed into law on March 27, included up to $349 billion in relief for small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
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