Recently, SocialVentures launched the Trail for Good, a fun for all ages, hands-on experience that demonstrates how we can all make a difference through our purchasing power and supporting social enterprise. A few examples of the impact you can make by visiting some of the nearly 20 businesses featured on the Trail include:
- Get unique local art and help people with developmental differences
- Buy fresh vegetables and support urban farming
- Enjoy delicious coffee and amplify diversity
Completing the Trail for Good and winning a limited-edition Griffen Hollow ‘Navigator for Good’ badge is as easy as visiting three purpose-driven businesses featured on our customized Google Map, recording your visits through a quick online survey, and sharing your experience with #TrailForGood on social media.
We caught up with three social enterprise leaders whose businesses are featured on the Trail to learn more about their impact.
Open Door Art Studio
Becky Sharp, Executive Director & Sean Moore, Program Director
Open Door Art Studio’s mission is to “inspire life journeys” for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The organization provides support to these individuals using art-focused programs that allow meaningful interaction with the community.
Some of Open Door’s services include exhibition opportunities, studio time, performance art programs, and engagement with local artists. Before the pandemic, the organization represented over 100 artists, and now it services 65-70 artists.
Sean Moore, program director, and Becky Sharp, executive director, explained that COVID-19 created many challenges, but also allowed the organization to find new and innovative ways to deliver its services. Unlike other businesses during the pandemic, Open Door did not shut down because its support programs are vital to the community it serves. Sharp said that the pandemic allowed Open Door to experiment working with artists in smaller and more personalized settings.
When asked about the Trail for Good, Moore said, “Eyes and connections are everything.” He sees the Trail for Good as a way for new people in Central Ohio who wouldn’t have otherwise known about them to interact with social enterprises . Moore and Sharp also said being part of a network with so many notable social enterprises in the local community gives Open Door the support and connections needed to make a larger impact.
Moore’s closing words when asked about new people coming into Open Door’s gallery were, “When someone comes through our front door, our artists are immediately engaging them in discussions about the fine arts and their work. They are going to try to make a sale because they are really proud of what they’ve created.”
Becca Brown, Executive Director
Franklinton Farms is an organization dedicated to bringing communities together through urban farming practices. Franklinton Farms has garden space sprawled across a block in Franklinton, providing fresh food to a historically disenfranchised community while instilling a sense of beauty and pride within the neighborhood.
Becca Brown, executive director of Franklinton Farms, has lived in the Franklinton area for a decade. Before joining the Franklinton Farms team, she was “continuously mesmerized by the beauty of Franklinton Farms’ crops and gardens.”
Through programs like the U-Pick Garden, which allows community members to pick fresh produce for no cost, Franklinton Farms continues to provide fresh and affordable produce for community members and the larger Central Ohio area. The organization offers up to 75% off produce for those purchasing with SNAP/EBT. Additionally, Franklinton Farms sells produce every Saturday at the Worthington Farmers Market. Besides providing food, Franklinton Farms also wants to help build the community using the garden.
“Franklinton is changing a lot because of development and gentrification, so Franklinton Farms creates opportunities for people of different socioeconomic backgrounds to connect around food and outdoor spaces,” said Brown.
Brown loves how the Trail for Good helps people to find impactful ways to make their dollars count, making an impact and supporting local businesses. About being a business leader in Central Ohio, she shared, “Entrepreneurship is amazing; it’s brave, courageous, creative, and on top of that, social entrepreneurs are making a difference for families and communities.”
Thinking about the future, Brown said that she is looking forward to optimizing the farm and finding better ways to serve the Franklinton community in the coming years, and plans to focus on the organization’s educational programs to help teach the community about the importance of eating healthy.
The Galaxy Coffee
Kels Wilson & Jevonna Morris, Co-owners
The Galaxy Coffee is a new impact-driven business that celebrated its grand opening on June 25. The coffee truck was started by Jevonna Morris and Kels Wilson who met several years ago while working for a coffee chain in Central Ohio. Morris was the shop manager, and when interviewing Wilson for a barista position, asked Wilson where they saw themselves in the future. When Wilson replied that they wanted to open an LGBTQ+ coffee shop, Morris lit up.
“At that moment, I knew I met my future business partner,” she said.
The Galaxy Coffee is creating a space where people can connect and form relationships, especially for those in the local LGBTQ+ community.
“We want people of all genders and generations to be able to meet, enjoy delicious refreshments and hang out,” said Wilson.
Besides providing a safe space for LGBTQ+ individuals, The Galaxy Coffee is a worker cooperative where all employees have an equal share in profits and decision-making. This business model also allows them to provide a living wage to all team members.
The Galaxy Coffee has a Community Jar instead of a tip system. The Community Jar is an opportunity for customers to pay it forward when they can, and use it when they need it.
When asked about the Trail for Good, Wilson said, “Supporting small and local businesses is always going to have a more direct impact on people.”
Morris continued that she loves how Trail for Good gets people out and interacting while doing good. Many of the businesses on the Trail for Good, like The Galaxy Coffee, give people meaningful opportunities to connect with their direct community.
Ready to get started? It’s fun to explore new places and do good! Learn more about the Trail for Good, as well as testimonials from community members who’ve completed the Trail, at socialventurescbus.com/trailforgood.
Founded in 2014, SocialVentures is a non-profit organization that believes in people, purpose and prosperity. They develop, advocate for and help fund businesses advancing solutions to social problems in our community. Send an email to [email protected] to connect and visit socialventurescbus.com for more information.
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