It's a truck, but then it's not.
There are wheels, but it's really driven by dedication, passion and love.
There's coffee, but it's conversation and refuge that really fills you.
It's home is in Clarkston, but the welcome comes in the form of people from around the world - truly, "the most diverse square mile in the United States" (if not the world).
"Can we meet at Refuge Coffee Co. is one of my favorite ways to plant the seed for an amazing meeting or catch-up with friends?" I know this because you don't just "have a meeting" when you pull into their parking lot. You get to listen to Leon with his ever-awesome Congolese accent greet anyone like family. You get to meet someone doing something awesome to change the world is some wonderful way. You get to hear the sound of laughter - always - coming from a table close to you. You literally FEEL this broken world healing sitting in the revamped garage.
You think you're coming for a cup of coffee and leave with a permagrin because you were just a part of something really special. Your coffee helped fuel their job training for amazing refugees. Your presence provides an even greater welcome for many passersby who are looking to really call this place home. Your conversations will no doubt linger longer because they're special here. You're always welcome and you're never a stranger.
To write that we're honored to award Refuge Coffee Co. with one of our See Beautiful Milestone Grants would be an understatement. They'll use the grant to help make their location in Refuge a home, as they just officially unveiled their efforts to turn a dream into a reality and purchase their space for good.
I'd be remiss not to invite you to be a part of their story in case you can't swing by and grab a cup of coffee. You can learn more about their beautiful work here and virtually create refuge: https://www.purecharity.com/a-place-for-refuge
Sharing stories brings us together, helps us understand one another, and alleviates fear of the unknown. A story of hope can bring light to darkness and encouragement when there seems to be none. A story of hope can mean everything to someone who has just received a medical diagnosis. helloHope offers that hope to individuals and families trying to understand and cope with a scary diagnosis.
When their own daughter was diagnosed with eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) shortly after her first birthday, Mary Beth and Andrew Thomas experienced first-hand the fear and uncertainty that can come with a medical diagnosis. With a heightened sense of compassion for other families that face often more difficult circumstances, helloHope emerged. They continue to be inspired by words or support from website visitors that say, “Reading this article and the comments, I feel like I’m reading my own story. It breaks my heart because I feel no one understands what I am feeling and how lost I feel, but on here it’s different.”
With the $1000 See Beautiful Milestone Grant, more stories can be told and shared. The funding will support professional writers to craft stories, enhancing the sustainable impact of helloHope’s mission. With more stories being told, more connections can be made. And since 14 million children in the US face special healthcare needs, this has the potential to impact a lot of people.
Beyond the stories of hope, helloHope also offers Free Parking Days, provides free popsicles, and delivers meals to families at a local children’s hospital. We, at See Beautiful, can only imagine the look on one’s face, when after a long day caring for a loved one, parking is paid, or a meal is shared. We can only imagine it is beautiful indeed.
Jannan Poppen, Giving Coordinator
At the Hope Shines summer camp, campers complete arts and crafts activities, practice dance routines, and play games. They get to know the other campers and camp mentors and laugh and build community with one another. They share meals, encourage each other, and gain confidence. All of this sounds like a typical summer camp, but the Hope Shines summer camp is so much more.
Every summer, 36 Rwandan kids come together for a special fun-filled week where “imagination meets education.” In addition to the standard camp fare of games and crafts, the kids learn through an ever-changing curriculum that includes everything from Engineering to Global Geography to English speaking. And it always includes a strong focus on health and hygiene.
Dan Gladden, Hope Shines’ Executive Director, explains what the health and hygiene curriculum entails, “This year’s curriculum includes oral hygiene, fluoride treatments, annual health checks by a doctor, a science and engineering curriculum, first-aid, a self-esteem workshop, malaria prevention, and HIV/AIDS prevention.” The children also receive nutritionally-fortified meals and clean water to drink throughout the camp. For the camp participants, whose families live on an average of $17 per month, access to healthy food and clean water is paramount. It helps relieve the financial burden on their families and of course, improves their health.
One way Hope Shines provides healthy meals is through their sustainable greenhouse project. Once crops are harvested from the greenhouse, they not only go toward the camps’ meals, but they are also sold to provide sustainable revenue. The See Beautiful Milestone Grant funding will help sustain the greenhouse project and will also offset the major cost of running the camp - transportation to and from the camp.
Although the grant funding will support the summer camp operations, Hope Shines stays busy year round with their various programs. They provide basic needs for education, such as uniforms and school supplies and run an after-school program to keep students engaged and learning when they are not in school. And the focus on healthy children serves as a tenant of Hope Shines, empowering young people to understand and respect their bodies.
With values like healthy living, integrity, sustainability, commitment to children, and expanding impact, it’s safe to say that Hope Shines creates beautiful in the lives of the children and families they serve. And See Beautiful stands behind them every step of the way.
Jannan Poppen, Giving Coordinator
With community at its core, Beloved Atlanta supports women on their path to overcome commercial sexual exploitation. Women complete three phases over the two-year commitment to the residential program. Through an individualized plan, which includes restoration, education, and employment, women are supported in healing past trauma in order to ultimately graduate from the program with a full-time job and three months of living expenses saved.
Seeing the transformation in the lives of the women they serve inspires the BeLoved Atlanta staff. Amelia Quinn, the Founder of BeLoved, shares, “Last Monday we celebrated the college graduation of a BeLoved resident. When she came into the BeLoved Program, she had lost custody of her daughter and had been in and out of addiction for years. I sat in the school auditorium with her daughter, the BeLoved staff and volunteers as we watched her walk across the stage and all yelled and celebrated as loud as we could. The next day she went to her full time job and found out the company was giving her a car.”
This kind of success begins with allowing the women to heal from past traumatic experiences. As BeLoved has supported more women, they have witnessed first-hand just how important this foundation of healing can be in each woman’s overall journey. The See Beautiful Milestone Grant funding will help to provide individual counseling to the women of BeLoved Atlanta. Big victories begin with small victories, and counseling helps women to begin building confidence in those small victories.
BeLoved Atlanta seeks to change the perception that women in prostitution are criminals. Rather, they are survivors and leaders. They are “gifted, strong, and trustworthy.” They are beautiful and capable of seeing and creating so much beautiful in themselves and their communities. See Beautiful is honored to support an organization so committed to community and empowering women. Thanks for letting us help celebrate those small victories.
Jannan Poppen, Giving Coordinator
“I learned that your beauty is powerful & priceless... Each and every word is going to benefit me in life”. –Precious, age 14, former student of Realize Your Beauty
Powerful and priceless. That is the impact of promoting positive body image, self esteem, and kindness through the arts, and that’s exactly what Realize Your Beauty does. Through plays, workshops, and camps, Realize Your Beauty helps young people recognize their own unique gifts and the inner beauty they possess. As Stacey Merkl, Realize Your Beauty’s Founder and Executive Director, shares, students are taught to “put their energy into kindness, integrity, and respect toward themselves and others.”
Realize Your Beauty’s lessons encourage self-confidence and an understanding that being oneself is the best way to be, and they do so in a fun, engaging, and memorable way. Kids may be told that it’s important to respect themselves and one another, but the way they learn through Realize Your Beauty is more likely to stick with them because they get to experience it for themselves and see it come to life through theatre arts.
Currently, there are two different high school programs as well as a late elementary show. Realize Your Beauty carefully makes sure everything meets the level of the students the programs are designed for. Workshops for older students, for example, address issues such as eating disorders, always in an age-appropriate way.
With the See Beautiful Milestone Grant, Stacey and the folks at Realize Your Beauty will finally get to create and implement a program for the lower elementary school age group. They often get asked to provide a show for this age, but haven’t had the resources to do so until now. With the $1000 grant funding, they will be able to realize their vision to develop a play and production full of magical realism, classic clowning techniques, and puppetry, suitable for the younger audience.
Several hundred children each year have the potential to be reached once the program is developed. That’s several hundred children each year who will have the opportunity to hear that they are beautifully unique, from the inside out. This kind of creating beautiful with a sustainable impact and is exactly what See Beautiful was hoping to support when we dreamed up the Milestone Grant.
Jannan Poppen, Giving Coordinator
See beautiful in yourself.