Favarh: The Arc of the Farmington Valley

Helping create a work life – and a whole life – for individuals with disabilities

Steve Morris, Executive Director of Favarh

Steve Morris, Executive Director of Favarh

When Steve Morris, executive director, The Arc of the Farmington Valley (Favarh), met Kim Morrison and Noelle Alix, co-founders of BeanZ & Co., they instantly connected. The three had heard of each other and their shared missions to employ those with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) in an inclusive setting.

“BeanZ & Co. is an inclusive coffee café employing those with and without intellectual disabilities,” explains Kim. “We believe the food and beverage industry holds great job opportunities for adults with special needs. It not only teaches them new skills, it provides socialization opportunities with typical employees, as well as their peers. We are creating jobs, and just as important, we are creating community.”

The BeanZ & Co. vision is one that Steve Morris and Favarh share and fully support, as they also put a caring lens on individuals with IDD by building community.

“People can’t thrive when they’re isolated,” says Steve. “For us, it’s not just about a job and a place to live, our mission is to help the people we support to be an active part of the community. It’s a whole life approach. This is why we believe in the BeanZ & Co. mission so strongly and want to help however we can.”

Favarh has already begun to do so, placing many of BeanZ & Co.’s employees with IDD, as well as providing on-site job coaching when needed. To a smaller extent, Favarh also is helping BeanZ & Co. with consulting on how to support people on the job.

“Everyone is different and has different needs and skill sets,” says Steve. “We offer the whole spectrum of job support, tailoring services to each individual’s needs.”

Some individuals need help beginning the job search process, others also might need help once they get a job to learn the role and settle into the workplace. There are those who may need a periodic check in, and still others might need more regular job coaching to help them to stay on task, to quality check the work they’re doing, and more.

BeanZ & Co. is equally committed to helping each employee be successful. 

“We want our employees to gain real life employment skills, to be happy to come to work every day, to know they are a part of the BeanZ family, and to go further in their careers,” explains Noelle Alix, BeanZ & Co. co-founder. “We want to show the world what these individuals can do.”

For Kim and Noelle, the success of BeanZ & Co. isn’t just measured by the typical metrics of happy, well-trained employees and its bottom line, they are eager to see more employers follow their lead.

“We are so thankful for all of the agencies, educators and parents before us who paved the way for our children in education,” says Noelle. “Now it’s our turn to extend the road for those after us by breaking the next barrier of inclusive employment.”

Steve Morris and Favarh couldn’t agree more.

“BeanZ & Co. has such an innovative vision as an employer – we’re eager for other businesses to see its success and the value of hiring those with IDD beyond having another employee,” says Steve. “You’re going to go to BeanZ and not just get a cup of coffee or a delicious meal. You’re also going to leave feeling uplifted. Others simply can’t offer that.”

Getting beyond barriers is an important first step that Favarh is eager to help potential employers work though.

“Some employers don’t want to be bothered and don’t see the value, or they had a bad experience with an employee that wasn’t a good fit,” explains Steve. “Making a good employee-employer match is essential. As a provider, we’re careful and vigilant. We don’t place someone for the wrong reason. We properly match skill and ability of the individual to the needs of the employer. We have a great success rating at Favarh.” 

What are the next steps for an employer interested in learning more about hiring individuals with special needs? Steve encourages area businesses to contact Bill Neagus at Favarh, wneagus@favarh.org, or 860-693-6662, ext. 120, about how these staffing solutions can work for their business. Favarh places individuals throughout most of north central Connecticut and can refer employers in other parts of the state to similar organizations.

“As one successful example, we have an employer who refers to their Favarh-placed employees as their ‘A-Team,’” says Steve. “This group of employees brings a different energy to the workplace – they’re always friendly, they always show up on time, and they rarely miss a day of work.”

Favarh is a nonprofit organization that receives government funding primarily through the State of Connecticut, which largely supports its day-to-day operations. They rely on fundraising capital campaigns to support larger efforts to expand infrastructure and provide the people they support with healthy and active lifestyles. If you would like to learn more about how to support these efforts, visit www.favarh.org.

BeanZ & Co. is an inclusive coffee café employing people with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities and demonstrates the possibilities in all of us. The coffee café serves breakfast, lunch, hot and cold beverages, and bakery items for take-out or to eat in, and is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. BeanZ & Co. is located at 300 West Main Street, Avon, Conn. For more information, visit beanzandco.com.