Almost two years ago, Madison Chandler and Mark Smesrud set out on a mission to help homeless youth in Denver, Colorado. How did they go about it? They founded Purple Door Coffee, a non-profit that aims to help young people living on the street re-enter the workforce and establish a more stable life.
Chandler and Smesrud take in three teens and young adults at a time, providing them with a job for one year and helping them find a place to live. Through a 52-week curriculum, the co-founders teach their employees practical skills, such as budgeting and banking, as well as how to improve their physical, emotional and mental health.
Chandler and Smesrud thought a coffee shop would be a great way to help homeless youth since it allows them to learn various practical skills – like customer service and cleanliness – that they'ill be able to put to good use in following jobs. The added value to the coffee shop as a workplace for people who tend to be isolated from society is that it is also an open space.
And the reason for the coffee shop’s name? As purple is symbolically associated with royalty, the founders wanted to create an environment where "every single person that walks through [the] door – whether it's an employee or a customer or a vendor or whoever it is – is treated like royalty and given a fair chance, no matter what they've done or haven't done," Chandler said.
We really can’t think of a better way to help young people in need.