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The Campaign Launched, So We Threw a Party!

The blood, sweat, and tears of months of work on Blessed Coffee’s Brewing Change campaign all led up to yesterday’s much anticipated campaign Launch Party. Nearly 75 guests packed into Silver Spring’s Addis Ababa Ethiopian Restaurant to celebrate the official fundraiser kick-off.    

Supporters DiningThose of you who have been following the campaign know that the 16-member Brewing Change team has been meeting since May 2013 to plan the campaign rollout on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo.  Well, yesterday, the site went live and it was time to party!

Tebabu and Sara issued an open invitation to the festivities and Blessed Coffee’s fans didn’t disappoint.  Supporters came out in droves to be a part of celebrating Blessed Coffee’s future.  For the evening, the top floor of Addis Ababa Restaurant became Brewing Change campaign central.

Guests mingled and enjoyed the Ethiopian buffet which included savory lentils, creamy sweet corn, spicy beef tibs, and of course, injera.  Campaign team member Kimberley Jutze served as the night’s emcee.  

A fun surprise came early in the festivities when guests Busy Graham, Molly Graham, and Greg Lewis serenaded the crowd with an impromptu folk song with some befitting lyrics that included, “All I want is a cup of Blessed Coffee made in an Ethiopian coffee pot.” 

Tebabu, Ike, SaraCounty Executive Ike Leggett took time out of an evening filled with multiple events to stop by the party.  He not only wished Tebabu and Sara success with the campaign, but he also congratulated them on Blessed Coffee's 3rd Anniversary, happening this month.    

Senator Jamie Raskin was the evening’s keynote speaker.  It was Jamie who initiated legislation in the State of Maryland to create a new corporate form called the Benefit Corporation.  Blessed Coffee was the second business in the nation to become a Benefit Corporation. Jamie is a long-time supporter of Blessed Coffee and his words on this occasion spoke of his admiration for Blessed Coffee’s founders and his optimism for its potential:

Jamie and Lady“You guys are visionaries.  You have captured this moment for us.  And, you are going to bring extraordinary credit and glory not just to you and your family, but to all of us, in what you’re doing with Blessed Coffee.”

Although he was unable to attend the event, Congressman Chris Van Hollen also made his support known by issuing a citation to Blessed Coffee, “In recognition of its efforts to develop partnerships in Ethiopia to improve the lives of coffee growers and to offer Americans the highest quality coffee.”

The evening wrapped up with what everyone had come for—the unveiling of the Brewing Change campaign on Indiegogo.  Campaign team member Adam Mendelevitz flipped the switch on the LCD projector and the video began.  The pitch video is just under 4 minutes long and features Sara’s melodious voice narrating.  The course of the story begins with Ethiopia’s rich coffee heritage, then speaks to the outrageous inequities in the global coffee market, and closes with the rise of Blessed Coffee and Virtuous Exchange. 

Group ShotAs the credits for the video rolled, Jamie Raskin stepped forward to become the first donor to the campaign.  Others eagerly followed his example and the last scene of the evening was of people taking out pens and checkbooks to, as Sara says in the video, “have a positive impact in the community.”

To give to the Brewing Change campaign, visit our page on Indiegogo.  Just click here!

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The Brewing Change Team – Heroes in the Battle for Social Justice.

One of the most rewarding aspects of being in my forties is that I find enjoyment in the everyday of life. I enjoy hearing the birds chirp in the morning, watching the grass grow, the leaves change from green to brown to eventually falling from the trees, children playing, the sun rising in the morning, the rain hitting my window pain, and simply reflecting on how blessed I am to be healthy and alive.  I quite literally find joy in the everyday of life.  And it is with this mindset in which I approach my day. My daily goal is to think positive thoughts and I make the conscious decision to only connect with others who are positive thinkers.  The Brewing Change Team is a team of positive thinkers who are committed to bringing forth social justice and I am proud to be a member.

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When you have a company that specializes in building and managing social networks connecting with positive thinking people, it is not only preferred, it is extremely beneficial.  I live my life according to the principle that a positive mental attitude and definiteness of purpose is the starting point toward all worthwhile achievement. It is within that context that I created my company King Connections a business-consulting firm that specializes in building and managing social networks and leveraging them into connected-engaged communities. As a Benefits Corporation and Conscious Capitalist I choose to work only with socially responsible businesses, CEOs, and non-profits organizations whose mission is to serve others in a positive-measurable impactful process. My personal standard that I set for myself is that my I am not finished until my smile bring forth smiles on the faces of others and this can only be accomplished by ensuring that my clients and their stakeholders benefit. Being a member of the Brewing Change Team allows me to work with 15 other likeminded individuals who believe in that same standard.

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  There is nothing more gratifying than working with clients and projects that are aligned with my values, particularly those that connect with me spiritually and elevate my consciousness to the next level. The Brewing Change crowd funding campaign is just such a project.  The Brewing Change crowd funding campaign is created for two primary purposes.  The first is to raise $500,000 for my client Blessed Coffee who will use the money as a down payment on a community-coffee café in Takoma Park, MD.  The second is to implement the founders of Blessed Coffee Tebabu’s and Sara’s socially conscious business model Virtuous Exchange.  This quest has assembled the most diverse team of individuals that I have ever had the privilege of working with.

 Starting with its founders and creators, Tebabu Assefa and Sara Mussie, two paragons of virtue that I feel blessed to know their acquaintance.  Their compassion and desire to destroy a horrible injustice that they have witnessed perpetrated on coffee farmers in their home country of Ethiopia has inspired policy makers, community leaders, business associations, friends, colleagues, universities, non-profit organizations and family members to join their noble cause.  What I find to be most extraordinary is the diversity of cultures, races, religions, genders, and ethnic backgrounds in Tebabu’s and Sara’s social network. 

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We have consistently gathered bi-weekly for the past 11 weeks and before each meeting begins this diverse team of individuals sit down to a delicious, healthy, and beautifully prepared meal.  I personally believe that the love and attention that Tebabu and Sara put into making the food sets the framework for an evening filled with spirited discussions of which each member is actively and passionately engaged.

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After the delightful and always colorful meal we begin each meeting with a check-in.  In which each team member is giving the opportunity to share what is happening in their life while the others empathically listen.   Tebabu always surprises the team by inviting guests to each meeting consisting of State Senator Jamie Raskin, Takoma Park City Council members Terry Seamens, Seth Grimes, and Jarred Smith and occasionally we are fortunate to have a guest from overseas such as Tadesse Meskela the founder and general manager of the Oromia Coffee Farmers Co-operative Union and the inspiration behind Blessed Coffee.  Each meeting concludes with a check-out, which is usually a one word description of how each team member is currently feeling.  Words such as elated, inspired, moved, excited, and passionate are what you typically hear.  Out of all the business meetings that I attend the Brewing Change Team’s are the most spiritually uplifting and personally heartwarming.

f - lemme tell ya

Being a part of the Brewing Change Team has impacted my life in a positive way and has truly taught me the true significance behind the Stephen R. Covey poem

“I sought my God, and my God I could not find/I sought my soul, and my soul eluded me/I sought to serve my brother in his need, and I found all three/My God, my soul, and thee.”