INSPIRED IMPACT is an ongoing blog series that gives voice to purpose-driven organizations and passionate leaders and entrepreneurs who are making an impact in their communities and industries.
WHAT DO YOU DO?
We’re a non-profit coffee company that provides employment and job training for resettled refugees and immigrants using our big red coffee trucks (for catering) and a coffee shop venue in Clarkston, Georgia (for creating a place of refuge).
WHY DO YOU DO IT?
It is our vision to leverage the power of welcome. Refuge Coffee Co. relentlessly pursues our goal to provide employment and job-training opportunities to resettled refugees, to create a unique gathering place in Clarkston, and to tell a more beautiful refugee story to Atlanta.
WHAT IMPACT ARE YOU MAKING?
We see three areas where we are slowly making an impact:
- Opportunity – Living wage jobs, holistic, quality job training, coaching and mentoring, which gives refugees hope for a better future.
- Hospitality – A multi-ethnic gathering place where refugees mingle with local people, fostering genuine relationships.
- Awareness – Our trainees and our truck help us tell a more beautiful refugee story, opening people’s eyes to the vibrancy and resilience of most refugees.
WHAT (OR WHO) INSPIRES YOU TO MAKE THIS IMPACT?
Well, I’d say our refugee and immigrant employees and neighbors inspire us most. This isn’t charity – they work so hard to do the actual mission WITH us. They are hard-working, resilient, heroic people that we learn from every day. Our community – the entire mix – inspires us by simply living out values like welcome and affirmation.
WHAT’S YOUR BIG DREAM FOR THE ORGANIZATION AND THE IMPACT YOU WANT TO MAKE?
Always, we’re looking to create more jobs and more opportunities for training. Beyond that, we love it when we get to showcase Clarkston to the rest of Atlanta and beyond. To do events, host organizations, and partner with refugee-owned businesses in a way that always contributes to the vibrancy of our community. So our hope is to go deeper and wider in our relationships with our neighbors and find ways to give more opportunities to refugees.
WHAT RESOURCES DO YOU NEED TO MAKE THOSE DREAMS COME TRUE?
Well, of course we need money. BUT we are always amazed that so many have already given so much to get this thing off the ground, so we don’t like to lead with that (I guess I just did!). We also need people to find ways to engage with newly-arrived refugees. To welcome them, help them assimilate, but most of all to just be a friend. The more we can simply be the environment where good friendships form, the more depth we’ll have as an organization.
WHAT IS (OR HAS BEEN) YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE?
Staying focused! Early on, we tried to be everything, and we learned that we aren’t an aid agency, we aren’t a thrift store, we aren’t a lobbying group. So we leave those endeavors to the groups that do that well, and we just show up with the coffee! We’re really just a hospitality engine… and we’re discovering that role is more powerful than we thought.
WHAT WORDS OF ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER LEADERS LOOKING TO MAKE AN IMPACT?
Start small and real. Do the big thing you want to do in your own life first. Gather a great team (and take your time doing that). Say no when you need to so your yes can be strong. Know what you don’t know… and don’t waste your time thinking you (the leader) has to know everything, but find people who know and let them join you. If you find your joy leaking away, stop and refresh.
HOW CAN OTHERS SUPPORT YOU OR YOUR CAUSE?
If you’re local, come see us for coffee! 4170 East Ponce de Leon/Clarkston, GA 30021 – we’re here Mon-Sat, 7am-6pm. We can connect you with volunteer opportunities in our neighborhood if you want to get involved more regularly. If you or your church, company, organization is able, hire us to cater at your event (contact info on our website). And, finally, give if you’re so inclined. Monthly gifts really help us with sustainability, but really any gift helps and encourages us (again, link on our website).
Orapin Marketing + Public Relations serves those who serve others. We help purpose-driven companies and nonprofits tell their stories and get the attention they deserve for the impact they make by creating content and securing press coverage, strategic partnerships, and thought leadership opportunities. If you would like to be featured on INSPIRED IMPACT, reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.