Thank you to Tara Kennedy from Tree of Life Ministries, manager of SimplyBe Coffee, for answering some of our questions! To learn more about the Chamber’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee, click here.
When was your organization founded, and what is its primary mission?
Tree of Life Ministries has been around since 2008, registered officially as a 501c(3) in 2012 based out of Purcellville, VA. Our mission is to reach out to the poor and needy in the community with the love of Jesus Christ.
How can the community support your organization?
Word of mouth! Tell your friends, families, and coworkers about the opportunities that TOL and SimplyBe Coffee gives individuals with disabilities to learn important job skills and work in a loving, Christ centered environment! Bringing your Bible studies, small business groups and family and friends to the shop gives our staff the opportunity to learn and work, but also gives you as the customer the opportunity to have your day brightened and see how spending a few dollars and a little of your time can go so much further with us than it does at larger name shops.
What is the best part of your job and why?
The best part of my job as the manager of SBC is watching customers light up as they are first greeted by our staff and then again as they see the pride our staff all take in serving them each beverage or pastry! By employing staff with special needs we show the staff member that they are capable of meaningful work and that they are valued. It also encourages the public that come in and interact with us to employ at their own place of work from within the special needs community.
What is it like operating your organization in Northern Virginia/Loudoun?
While operating a ministry-based business in Loudoun county comes with disadvantages such as high operating costs especially, the benefits make it worthwhile. Operating in Loudoun means we are able to reach a growing number of people that otherwise may not see this level of support for employing individuals with disabilities. Our experience is that Loudoun community members embrace the need for providing employment opportunities for all abilities.
What does National Disability Employment Awareness Month mean to you?
It means showing individuals with disabilities they are valued in the work force and encouraging employers to see the ABILITY in people.
What are some favorite things you like to do when you’re not working?
I, along with my husband, two children and two dogs, enjoy supporting local events and causes near our home in Leesburg. We love to cheer on our son at baseball, and camp at the river most weekends. I personally enjoy photography.
To learn more about Tree of Life Ministries, check out their website.