You may have seen posts on social media or updates in our email blasts telling you about the work Dean has been doing to help coffee roasters in Ukraine. This work is ongoing, and we have more to share. First off, let us start with a little background if you’re hearing about this for the first time.
In March, Dean and Annette decided that they would travel to the Polish – Ukrainian border to offer whatever help they could. With both of them having immediate family who were also refugees, offering this help was a no brainer. Dean and Annette both have years of experience doing direct outreach with disenfranchised people, so they decided to start a Go Fund Me and bring those funds with them to distribute them directly to Ukrainian refugees. Thanks to the support of our local and wider community, their Go Fund Me was wildly successful, allowing Annette and Dean to distribute over $160,000 to date.
Once arriving at the border, it became clear that these refugees were in desperate need of housing, short and long term. Dean and Annette were able to arrange transportation and housing for over one hundred refugees, the majority of whom were women and children. But Dean noticed a troubling trend: Roma refugees were being discriminated against and denied housing. Once this became apparent, he focused his efforts on securing housing for Roma refugees, as they had no one else advocating for them.
After returning from Poland, Annette has continued working with the Roma and Dean turned his focus to assisting the coffee community in Ukraine. He heard a story of a café and roastery that was damaged during the heavy shelling in Kharkiv, and he provided funding for them to rebuild. Dean then worked with SCA Ukraine to purchase green beans that were then distributed to Ukrainian roasters to keep their operations up and running, restarting their essential roles in their communities. We are also providing evacuation assistance and getting work boots and first aid kits to the unsung heroes – the utility workers in Kharkiv who reconnect electricity, gas and water after shellings, often while the hot fire is still coming in.
We have received so many messages and photos from our friends in Ukraine of soldiers drinking coffee made from the beans we provided, and we’re grateful to be able to support that vibrant coffee community.