When you walk by the Global Goods and Coffee shop in Olde Town Arvada you wouldn’t expect that the work they do inside those doors changes lives. However, the coffee shop is just one of the ways that the McNeely family raises money for their nonprofit, Global Refuge.
The McNeely family started Global Refuge in 2001 as a “reaction to all of us being shocked by what was happening overseas” stated Jaden McNeely, executive director of operations. McNeely, along with his father and sister, went on a trip to Burma in the late ’90s to help refugees get basic medical care after being displaced due to conflict in the country. They soon realized they had to do more to help. McNeely and his family found that bigger nonprofits took weeks to get to these places since they are such remote, dangerous areas. Shortly after, they all decided to dedicate their lives to help make others’ lives better by traveling to war-torn countries to teach displaced civilians basic medical care.
All of Global Refuge’s projects are based on the philosophy “Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime.” The McNeelys send doctors and other medical professionals to difficult-to-reach places to set up a clinic and begin to train and treat. The five main diseases and conditions they focus on are cholera, dysentery, malaria, pneumonia and malnutrition. “Our goal is to empower them and train and educate and treat… All the things we have to do to get people to where they can keep running with it [after we are gone]. It actually helps when things die down in the conflict zone to help them rebound much quicker instead of being cut off from a bunch of free aid,” said McNeely.
In 2005 the organization received 501(c)(3) status and a few years later they opened their first retail store — Global Thrift in Westminster — as a way to generate more money for their overseas projects. “We pooled all the sales from that time to start a coffee shop. By May of 2013 both businesses were running and both were profitable from day one,” McNeely explained. The coffee shop — Global Goods and Coffee — is located in a 19th Century house in Olde Town Arvada and many of the employees are volunteers.
The McNeely’s started the coffee shop as a way to bring people in and show them what they were doing without putting too much pressure on customers to donate. You can walk in, look around and learn about the organization but if all you really want is a coffee, that coffee still makes a difference. Inside the coffee shop, you’ll find Ampersand Coffee, homemade pies and pastries and an upstairs co-working space along with artisan goods handcrafted by refugees. These goods are created by non-medically trained refugees then purchased by Global Refuge and sold in the Global Goods coffee shop. All of the proceeds go right back to the company to use on projects.
Since Global Refuge wants to remain independent they have to find creative ways to get larger donations. McNeely said that one way they’ve been successful is by asking donors to match the coffee shop’s profit. He said, “I think it gives credence to our ability to raise money if we are also doing really good business to help generate it too.” Even with the higher-paying donors 60 percent of the company’s donations come from individuals who donate $100 or less per month, proving that even the smallest donations make a big impact. If you would like to become a donor visit their website to learn more or stop by the shop to check out some of their goods.
Global Goods is located at 5613 Olde Wadsworth Blvd, Arvada and is open Monday-Saturday 6:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Follow Global Goods and Coffee and Global Refuge on Instagram to stay up to date on events and volunteer opportunities.