INSPIRED IMPACT™ is an ongoing blog series that gives voice to social entrepreneurs and leaders of purpose-driven organizations who are making an impact in their communities, industries, and around the world.
Sarah Lesyinski is the Executive Director of One Good Turn headquartered in Denver. Follow them on Facebook (@CAFE180PayItForwardRestaurant + @GoodTurnCycles) and Instagram (@cafe180englewood, @goodturncycles + @housing180) and learn more at onegoodturn.com.
WHAT DO YOU DO?
One Good Turn’s programs help low-income people with social determinants of health, providing access to healthy lunches, counseling, housing, and jobs–all in exchange for volunteer hours. We operate CAFE 180 in Englewood, a nonprofit restaurant where everybody eats, regardless of ability to pay. We also operate a bike shop in Littleton called GoodTurn Cycles. It’s a social enterprise that funds our JOBS 180 training program for young people who have barriers to employment, such as homelessness and refugee status. Our housing program houses hard-working families coming out of transitional housing by providing rental subsidies in exchange for volunteer hours. Our COUNSELING 180 program is scheduled to open in January 2020.
WHY DO YOU DO IT?
One Good Turn believes everyone has something to offer. That’s why we promote dignified exchanges and offer people a “hand up” rather than a “hand out.”
WHAT IMPACT ARE YOU MAKING?
We’re giving people who need a hand up access to the resources they need. In 2018, CAFE 180 served more than 14,000 meals. Nearly 35% of these lunches were provided through our dignified exchange program, meaning our patrons volunteered in the cafe for one hour in exchange for lunch. Through our JOBS 180 program, we have trained 23 young people with barriers to employment since 2017 in our bike shop located in Littleton. HOUSING 180 has given 12 families coming out of transitional housing a break on rent as they get back up on their feet, and we’ve provided more than 6,000 hours of counseling in exchange for volunteer hours at the cafe.
WHAT (OR WHO) INSPIRES YOU TO MAKE THIS IMPACT?
The people we serve are our biggest inspiration. They’ve helped us develop programs that truly add value to their lives. We couldn’t have ever anticipated the community we’ve built together. We laugh together, we cry together, we get frustrated and we experience joy together. We’re just thrilled to offer people from all walks of life the space to gather, learn, and grow.
WHAT’S YOUR BIG DREAM FOR THE ORGANIZATION AND THE IMPACT YOU WANT TO MAKE?
Our dream is to continue to level the playing field for people who need a little extra help getting access to resources many of us take for granted.
WHAT RESOURCES DO YOU NEED TO MAKE THOSE DREAMS COME TRUE?
We depend on the support of our community immensely. A lot of the work we do is facilitated through partnerships with other nonprofits, corporations, and community-based organizations that give of their time, talent, and resources. We’re also working to build our individual donor and volunteer base so we can help more people.
WHAT IS (OR HAS BEEN) YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE?
We’re a small nonprofit, and we’ve built an amazing team. But the ever-increasing cost of living impacts our employees, and so does the stressful nature of our work. As the need for our services continues to grow, we are constantly on the hunt for creative solutions that meet our shared needs.
WHAT WORDS OF ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER LEADERS LOOKING TO MAKE AN IMPACT?
Collaboration has been so key for us. We can only accomplish so much with a staff of less than 10. But with our nonprofit partners and other like-minded organizations, we expand our reach significantly. Also, listen to the people you’re trying to help. Involve them in your decision-making as much as possible. Their input is invaluable as you work to craft solutions that will truly make an impact.
HOW CAN OTHERS SUPPORT YOU OR YOUR CAUSE?
If you believe in giving people a hand up (and not a hand out), support our efforts by making a donation at onegoodturn.com/donate. And we’d love for you to come to eat lunch at CAFE 180 — and stop by our e-bike shop while you’re out shopping in Aspen Grove!
Orapin Marketing + Public Relations is an award-winning agency that drives awareness, engagement, and, ultimately, support for purpose-driven organizations. We amplify their voice and reach so they can grow, scale, and increase their impact. If you would like to be featured on INSPIRED IMPACT™, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.