Being, belonging, becoming: B3 Coffee holds grand opening at Chapel Hill Public Library

After working with Best Buddies for several years, Jacklyn Boheler aimed to foster more natural and visible relationships between people of all abilities in 2020.

Instead of community service or charity-based relationships, Boheler desired less condescending means of connecting people across ability lines.

Together with two other UNC graduate students, she founded the non-profit B3 Coffee to use coffee to help bring people together and work towards the destigmatization of disabilities. B3 has held pop-up coffee events and provided catering services throughout the Chapel Hill community for the past two years.

On Saturday, B3 — an acronym for being, belonging, and becoming — held the grand opening of its first permanent kiosk in the lobby of the Chapel Hill Public Library, where it served approximately 150 customers throughout the day.

The stand quietly operated in the library for several weeks, and Boheler reported that the visibility and interactions between B3’s team members and the general public have already been beneficial.

She stated, “It greatly facilitates the natural encounters that are so crucial to our social impact.” “Many people who approach the stand are unaware that our mission is centered on disability justice; they simply want a cup of coffee, which opens the door for interaction and connection.”

The kiosk was inaugurated during Disability Pride Month, a celebration that began in 1990, the year the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed.

Disability Pride Month and those with intellectual or developmental disabilities, in particular, do not receive much recognition in society due to a lack of exposure and a difference in values, according to Boheler.

“Disability has a lot of prejudices and negative connotations in our culture because it goes against all the values our culture promotes, such as independence and self-sufficiency,” she said. We have a natural aversion to those with disabilities.

People with disabilities are represented at all levels of B3, and according to Boheler, the first step in ending stigmatization is personal interaction and relationship-building between people with and without disabilities.

She stated, “We are uncomfortable with what we lack exposure to.” This is true for all forms of diversity, but especially disability. There will be stigmas if you’ve never interacted with someone with a disability.

Alex Martel, B3’s social media ambassador and a barista at the newly-opened kiosk, regularly publishes blogs and training videos for preparing coffee at the kiosk.

Martel stated that B3 has enabled him to pursue his interests, such as developing his public speaking skills.

“Two years ago, during the pandemic, I had lost my job and was conducting job searches,” Martel explained. “I discovered B3 on social media and asked to join. They granted permission, and I became their envoy.”

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