EXTRAORDINARY PEOPLE: Four Miles of Smiles

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — How someone deals with adversity says a lot about them. For example, you can miss your ride to work shortly after getting your first job ever and decide to be a no show.
Or you can be LaShanda Collins…our Extraordinary Person of the Week.

There are many roads to Beaus Coffee. It’s the destination found at the corner of Wrightsville and Kerr Avenue in Wilmington that sports the motto, “A special coffee shop run by special people”.

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It’s a first job for many of the employees and the journey to it is a path of determination.

“When you got to work, how did you feel?” Daniel Seamans asked LaShanda Collins of the day she missed her ride. “I still felt like running,” LaShanda replied with a smile.

LaShanda’s first job is at Beau’s Coffee. It’s been quite the ride to get here, no pun intended.

“I was looking for like a year and a half,” she said.

Just weeks after landing her first job of her life, LaShanda Collins would miss the bus ride to it.

“When you walked outside, did you realize you had missed it already?” Daniel asked. “Yes.”

What happened next is what we call four miles of smiles.

“A 4 mile walk, that’s no easy journey?” Daniel asked.

(smiling) “I kind of jogged, and then walked,” LaShanda said. “It was kind of fun, to me it was.”

LaShanda was finally given a chance to find meaningful work courtesy of Amy Wrights mission, Beau’s Coffee. This coffee shop was born out of another of Amy’s endeavors, the non-profit, Able to Work USA

“I’m very happy that Miss Amy let me get this job,” LaShanda said, “because it would be really hard for me to find one.”

This special coffee shop run by special people hires folks with intelectual and developmental disabilities.
But it’s more than just a job. It’s experience people yearn for.

LaShanda at work!
LaShanda at work! (click to see full image)

“It’s exciting, I’ve learned new things, what to do,” LaShanda said.

LaShanda could have seen a missed bus as a missed opportunity, but instead she accepted the new challenge because it is a new beginning.

“It’s exciting because I have a son,” LaShanda said. “I want him to find him a job and learn stuff too, like I did.”

So expect to see her extraordinary smile, even if it takes almost four miles of smiles to get there.
Because she may have missed the bus, but she didn’t miss the opportunity.
And that, LaShanda Collins, is Extraordinary.

You can see the WWAY special on Amy Wright here.
And the special report on Able to Work USA, here