Blog & Calendar

REUNION SPOTLIGHT: Kelly (Gavron) Scoggins ‘99 Provides A Cup of Hope

Ellie Dalkin, Director of Young Alumni Relations & Communications
In June of 2017, Kelly Gavron Scoggins ‘99 was scrolling through Instagram when she came across a friend’s comment on Bitty and Beau’s Coffee. Bitty and Beau’s Coffee first opened in Wilmington, NC in 2016 after founders Amy and Ben Wright saw a need for “people with disabilities to become more valued, accepted and included in every community.” According to their website, over 80% of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities remain unemployed worldwide. Bitty and Beau’s Coffee employs individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to close this gap and more importantly create experiences for the average person to come in off the street, grab a cup of coffee, and interact with a person with a disability. After an amazing customer service experience, customers will then see what individuals with disabilities are capable of and potentially re-consider hiring practices within their own lines of work. Ultimately, Bitty and Beau’s hopes to create a ripple effect of change.

The social media post caught Kelly’s eye as she had recently found herself immersed in the world of disabilities. Kelly and her husband, Drew, had the surprise of their lives when they found out they were having twin girls as first-time parents. The surprises didn’t end there though. During her pregnancy, Kelly found out one of her girls, Kit, would be born with a myriad of health challenges including Down syndrome. When she researched the mission of Bitty and Beau’s, she was blown away – “the concept was so simple, yet so powerful.” Kelly and Drew poured time, money, and resources into Kit to help achieve her maximum potential; but they were faced with the honest question: “For what? What good would all the education and early intervention do if there are limited or no employment opportunities available to her as an adult?” Bitty and Beau’s Coffee provided a hopeful answer. 

Fast-forward six years and the Scoggins family opened the doors to their very own Bitty and Beau’s Coffee in Houston, Texas in January of last year. Opening a coffee shop had always been an interest of theirs after they spent several years in West Africa, where Drew worked in economic development. Kelly – a full-time investment advisor at Goldman Sachs – and Drew – founder of an energy company – never felt like the timing was quite right until discovering Bitty and Beau’s, whose mission connected with them on a deeper level. As a for-profit business, the coffee shop would utilize both Drew and Kelly’s gifts and past experiences. It was the right opportunity for the right people at the right time.
Prior to having Kit, Kelly and Drew had never met a person with Down syndrome. While  many people’s lives and families are touched by disability, equally as many are less familiar with this population. Kelly believes that Bitty and Beau’s Coffee reminds its customers that “we are often more similar than we are different.” Inside the shop, the coffee counter is open to encourage social interaction, and the coffee equipment is placed on the back counter rather than the front to provide a window for customers to watch the employees make their coffee. They hope people will come in for a cup of coffee and leave changed for the better. For new parents of children with disabilities, it serves as a beacon of hope. For those who may not interact with individuals with disabilities on a regular basis, the shop provides a comfortable, approachable environment for doing so. Upon reflecting on her own journey as a parent, Kelly said, “raising a child with a differing ability is hard – there are moments of extreme joy and there are challenges; but I firmly believe that Kit is an intentional gift from God.” For the Scoggins family, Bitty and Beau’s is a reminder of the broader purpose and goodness that comes through the challenges. 

The days leading up to opening day provided a beautiful glimpse into the “radically inclusive” community. Cheers abounded as Drew and Kelly announced every employee by name and handed out aprons to the new members of the team. The grins stretching from ear to ear on every new employee shed light on the restorative power of inclusivity. For many, this was their first job. Standing with her sister and brother, Kit watched as people like her regained their sense of purpose through meaningful work. On opening day, two-hour lines wrapped around the block all day. Fast forward and Bitty and Beau’s Houston just celebrated their one-year anniversary, and is proud that all 26 employees with disabilities originally hired are still with the shop today – a remarkable achievement. When Kit was first born, Kelly held onto a bit of wisdom from a friend – “Most of the world will look at Kit and see everything that she is not. But there will come a time when you look at her and only see everything that she is.” Kelly and Drew hope Bitty & Beau’s Coffee Houston is showing what Kit and people like her can offer the world, one customer at a time.
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    • The Scoggins Family

    • The Bitty and Beau's team in Houston!

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