In 2020, after several years of working with Best Buddies, Jacklyn Boheler set out to cultivate more natural and visible relationships between people of all abilities.
Instead of community service- or charity-based relationships, Boheler wanted to find less patronizing ways to connect people across ability lines.
She founded the nonprofit B3 Coffee with two other UNC graduate students to use coffee to help bring people together and work towards the destigmatization of disabilities. For the past two years, B3 has been holding pop-up coffee events and catering services across the Chapel Hill community.
B3 — which stands for being, belonging and becoming — held a grand opening for its first permanent kiosk in the lobby of the Chapel Hill Public Library on Saturday, serving about 150 customers throughout the day.
The stand operated quietly in the library for several weeks, and Boheler said the visibility and interactions between B3’s team members and the public have been beneficial already.
“It really facilitates the natural encounters that are so important to our social impact,” she said. “Many people who approach the stand don’t realize that we have a mission that’s focused on disability justice, so they just happen to want a cup of coffee and then there’s an opportunity for interaction and connection.”
The kiosk opened during Disability Pride Month, a celebration of those with disabilities that started in 1990, the year the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed.
Boheler said Disability Pride Month and especially those with intellectual or developmental disabilities don’t receive much recognition in society both because of a lack of exposure and a difference in values.
“There’s a lot of biases and negative connotations with disability in our culture because it’s really contrary to all the values our culture perpetuates, like independence and self-sufficiency,” she said. “We have an inherent fear when it comes to disability.”