Central Texans with special needs get life-changing surprise: ‘You’re hired!’

Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 3:43 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Nearly two dozen Central Texans with special needs who thought they were going to the Magnolia Silos for a game of whiffle ball were instead surprised with the news they were hired as employees at Bitty and Beau’s Coffee Shop in Waco, a shop that employs those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The 23 new employees got the news Monday evening during a special event at Katy Ballpark in downtown Waco.

“They thought they were coming for a whiffle ball tournament at the Magnolia Silos but, really, all their friends and family came to surprise them and join us in congratulating them with a new job,” said Meghan Young, the program director from Bitty & Beau’s corporate office.

The coffee shop, started by Amy and Ben Wright of Wilmington, North Carolina in 2016, was inspired by their children, Bitty, 11, and Beau, 16, both of whom have Down syndrome.

Since that time, the Wrights have opened nine coffees shops across five states, mostly on the East Coast. They decided to spread their wings to Waco because of its community feel and popularity worldwide as a tourist destination.

23 Central Texans with special needs got the surprise of a lifetime while visiting the Magnolia...
23 Central Texans with special needs got the surprise of a lifetime while visiting the Magnolia Silos in Downtown Waco.(Courtesy Photos)

The Wrights held a job fair in early August at the Hilton in downtown Waco where 42 people with disabilities applied.

The families and caregivers of those chosen were in on the secret, but were asked not to tell them they had been hired.

They told their loved ones they were going for a game of baseball. Instead of bats and balls, the new hires were greeted with signs, balloons and lots of cheers and hugs.

Chris Barrington, 32, has autism and had never been on an interview before Bitty & Beau’s. He was shocked with the news he had a new job.

Tanner Underwood, 23, was another. Tanner was a 13-year-old Lorena eight grader when his mother’s car was rear ended in 2012 on Interstate 35 near the Waco traffic circle.

He suffered a severe traumatic brain injury. Tanner has worked extremely hard in therapy to get where he is today, and Bitty & Beau’s will be his first job.

“This job is an opportunity to prove my worth,” Tanner said. “This makes me feel included.”

Bitty & Beau’s in Waco is located at 110 Franklin Ave. They hope to open their doors in the coming weeks.

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