Each month this year, Amplio will be highlighting a different non-profit partner providing job preparation and job training within the refugee communities we serve. More than just words, we are committing to financially support the work of the partner we select each month and want you to join us! We will match every dollar given to the Amplio Foundation this month, up to $1000, in support of this month’s partner.
In the heart of Clarkston, just a few miles outside Atlanta, Georgia, you’ll spot a bright red truck that has become synonymous with the city itself—Refuge Coffee.
Here you’ll find all the typical fare of a café, but Refuge serves up far more than cappuccinos, teas and lattes. This community-focused organization is creating jobs, oneness, and hope in a city where approximately half of its residents are refugees rebuilding their lives here in America.
Refuge’s Community Engagement Director, Jessica Darnell, shares about their early days: “Kitti Murray (Refuge’s founder) and I went to church together, in the same small group. Back then Refuge was just a dream and an idea she would share about. As things started to happen, we would plan block parties and pour overs and Kitty would share the vision with others.”
That vision? “A vibrant resettled refugee community… where our new neighbors are embraced and given opportunities to thrive through the business of hospitality through coffee,” in Clarkston. They bought a truck and painted it red, then began selling coffee out of it and hosting events that would build community in the small town. It was simple, and it worked.
Jessica, who began as a volunteer at Refuge, was soon brought on-board as Director of Jobs Training and tasked with the responsibility of establishing a program that would teach refugees valuable skills that would help them acquire employment. About this time, Kitti and Jessica became acquainted with Chris Chancey, because of their similar work within the refugee town.
“Chris asked amazing questions we had never thought about,” Jessica shares, “‘What is the job training going to look like? What will be the material?’ Kitti and I looked at each other and thought, ‘I don’t know—we’ve never done this before!’”
Chris connected them with Jobs for Life, a faith-based organization uniting churches, businesses and community organizations to build relationships with, train and mentor the unemployed. Jessica remembers those very first days of job training classes, “It was a perfect fit. [Sometimes] Chris would come in and speak to the trainees… sharing testimony and encouragement,” she shares.
But it wasn’t long before Darnell took the reigns on another challenge: connecting with families and organizations to better understand their needs, empowering the resilient refugee community to move beyond survival and truly thrive. Now, Refuge has partnered with Somali American Community Center to help with after school programs; Refuge for Refugees to host a coat drive; and Clarkston Food Initiative to provide food mapping to newly settled immigrants, to name a few.
“We can be a helping hand to people who are already doing good work within the community,” she says, “We help spread the word about what [resources already] exist.”
One of these valuable partnerships has been with Amplio.
“Every time we’ve had an open position [at Refuge], we’ve put it out to the Amplio team and he gets it around to his people,” says Jessica.
Malek Almarash was recruited through Amplio in November 2016. Since then, he’s grown grown leaps and bounds in his English and cultural skills and becoming more proficient and relatable within the obstinate American business world—so much so that he’s been working on growing the family catering business. He’s procured a food service license, passed the health code inspection, and even bartered with artists to produce a logo—all while earning his GED.
Refuge is all about impacting lives through the power of community. In the past three years they’ve welcomed over 70,000 individuals from 60 countries. In 2017 they rallied the community to raise enough money to purchase a property in the center of town, their bright red truck still serving coffee out front as a landmark of welcome.
Now, Kitti shares, the company is figuring out how to leverage the space most effectively to engage the refugee community and beyond and developing ways to hire and train more refugees.
But their biggest budget need is to replace the facility’s roof.
“[Refuge is] cool and retro and warm and all that, but the roof leaks,” says the campaign website, which is aimed at raising the $30,000 needed in just 30 days.
The project is just “phase one” of a bigger plan to build out the existing facility into a “more effective event venue” for the community.
At Amplio, we are grateful for the work that Refuge Coffee Co. is doing to build community in Clarkston. Last month we were a proud sponsor of Refuge’s annual 5k, a fun community event that helps to rally funds and support to help their great cause. Now, we would love to invite you in joining us to support Refuge. As our May partner, any donation given to the Amplio Foundation will be matched (up to $1,000) and given to support Refuge’s “Roof Refuge” fundraiser.
To make a charitable donation, visit the Amplio Foundation page. Scroll down and click the Donate Now button. Fill in the amount and payment information, as well as whether you would like for it to be a one-time gift or recurring donation. Click the Give button and you’re done! Thank you for partnering with us to support the refugee workforce.