The following article, The Children’s Center Launches Delicious New Coffee Initiative, was first published on Flag And Cross.
A life dedicated to the empowerment and protection of those less fortunate than yourself is not for the faint of heart. There is nothing easy about it. Certainly, there is great fulfillment in the course of such work, but it comes with great costs in both the emotional and financial realms.
Terry Keel of The Children’s Center knows this all too well, having spent decades of his life in the service of others – namely the wayward young people of Texas and beyond.
While TCC has been around for nearly 145 years, Keel himself has been aware of his need to help other from an early age, having found his calling in the formative years directly following high school. It was then that the eventual President and CEO of The Children’s Center was set on a path to help others, after having volunteered in a children’s home just after graduation.
Now, in addition to the stated mission of The Children’s Center, (which includes fostering, mentoring, and empowering displaced youth), the organization is launching a new initiative that will provide not only valuable life experience to the young people that they come in contact with, but can also provide a bit of the ever-crucial funding needed to keep this sort of humanitarian endeavor rolling.
Introducing the C.A.F.E. Program, in which displaced youth are working hand-in-hand with small, family coffee farms to not only overcome their own adversities, but to learn and grow in a real-world business, far away from the trouble that might find them in other environments.
Terry Keel sees the program as an excellent opportunity to get these young people away from the uglier impulses of their lives, according to Keel:
“A number of runaway and homeless youth we have served, immigrated from Central America to flee poverty and violence and the life on the streets. Creating safe, productive, alternative living opportunities in their home country is necessary. Other runaway and homeless youth have aged out of our own care systems. Creating safe, productive, alternative living opportunities is also necessary to meet their needs. This combination of needs has been the impetus driving creation of the initiative.”
This also allows TCC to eschew other funding programs that might be prohibitive in nature.
“Sustainability of programs means developing funding sources that do not require government or outside funding. Sustainability of human beings requires income to survive and thrive. These objectives created the search for a business that could serve runaway and homeless youth, communities, and in this case, small farmers. Agriculture is global and local. Coffee was determined to be the most compatible business that could benefit each of these constituencies and the organization as a whole”, says Keel.
And this is far from some sort of marketing ploy or quick-fix scheme. Keel says that they’re in it for the long haul.
Within 5 years, the organization is hoping to have at least 5 small agricultural associations on board, all of whom will be working with displaced youth in their home country, farming coffee to be shipped to Galveston, Texas for roasting, packaging, and shipping. The program itself will not only be sustained by this effort, but will also provide some additional funding for the general work of The Children’s Center as well.
And this isn’t just charity coffee, either. Keel and his organization are working diligently to provide a product that is renowned for its taste and quality, and making monthly subscribers out of first-time buyers is a priority of the initiative.
When asked about a 10 year plan, Keel was careful not to take his dreams to a grandiose level, stating simply that he’d hope that the program is recognized for its quality coffee and its sustainability, while growing “slowly” and “carefully”, duplicating their efforts to more small, family owned farms in a deliberate manner.
Of course, it’s not just about the coffee, and Keel has frequently reiterated that the program will help these displaced youth learn valuable skills as they transition into a life of self-sufficiency and independence.
To learn more about the C.A.F.E. program, or to purchase some of their groundbreaking coffee, please visit their website by clicking here.
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