After making an impact on local high school students with special needs through coffee, Turlock resident Destiny Silva is hoping the community will support her endeavor to branch out and employ even more people with disabilities.
In the fall of 2018, Silva helped Denair schools start a small pop-up coffee cart that provided Special Education high school students with the chance to earn real life work experience taking orders, making drinks and counting change. The support from the community has grown overwhelmingly in the years since, Silva said, inspiring her to start her own coffee business in Turlock with the same mantra of kindness.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, just 17.9% of Americans with a disability were employed in 2020, down from 19.3% in 2019. While the increase in unemployment numbers among those with disabilities was partly due to the pandemic, the data also showed that people with disabilities were much less likely to be employed than those without disabilities across all age groups.
Aptly named Kind Koffee, Silva’s goal is for her forthcoming business to hire community members with developmental disabilities who may otherwise not have a chance to be hired by others. The only catch? She needs the community to buy in.
Silva officially unveiled her idea this week and started a fundraising campaign on the website Kickstarter, where independent creators and entrepreneurs can start community-backed projects without the hassle of grant applications or the stress of loans. Silva needs to raise $11,200 in order to start her mobile coffee cart and the website gives users just 60 days to reach their goal.
“It really does take just $1 from everyone to make a difference in someone’s life,” Silva said. “It’s not about coffee at all — we have to think about all of these kids who are never given that chance to have a job or be a part of the community in general because there aren’t a lot of places that employ children with disabilities.”
As of Friday afternoon, the community had already raised nearly $2,300 for Silva’s Kind Koffee Kickstarter campaign in just two days. As she anxiously waits to see whether or not enough funds will be raised, she’s stayed busy searching for a cart to host the business and making sure she can secure all of the proper machines to offer drinks and breakfast bites to the community.
If all goes according to plan, Silva hopes to open Kind Koffee within the next 10 months. The cart will have a permanent Monday through Friday location in the parking lot of Cen Cal Detailing in downtown Turlock, and Silva also plans on attending pop-up markets and other events.
Eventually she hopes to partner with Turlock Unified School District’s On Track program, where her sister attends school, and offer the same opportunities she’s made a reality for special needs students in Denair to students in Turlock.
“It all relies on this Kickstarter. If we don’t raise the money, then we won’t be able to do it,” Silva said. “In the long run, I really, really think we can raise it, especially with everyone I know and the community’s support. I really think we can.”
To donate to the Kind Koffee project, visit https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/kindkoffee/kind-koffee