A little over a week ago I had the opportunity to hear about a variety of great ideas for our County and ways we can help these ideas thrive and come to fruition at a Crowdfunding event put on by ASSETS, a diverse group of entrepreneurs and business leaders who are helping our county with social change and economic development.
We learned about everything from using a Popcorn Academy and Business to help teach entrepreneur skills to at risk teens who are paired with College mentors (Popped Culture) to a membership-based, flat-fee cleaning business started by a veteran that wants to help people earn a living wage (Sage & Shield) and many more.
Today, I wanted to highlight a specific one that is near and dear to my heart because it directly addresses one of the many issues faced by the families and individuals we serve–that of working in an diverse and inclusive environment while earning a thriving wage. I speak of course of the awesome idea for our community brought forth by Sierra Wood and her dream business Meraki Mocha.
Meraki Mocha exists to empower people with intellectual and developmental disabilities by offering meaningful employment at a thriving wage, while working in an inclusive environment. They partner with local and environmentally sustainable suppliers to provide fresh and affordable products. Their mission is to be a catalyst to inspire other businesses to hire more people with Intellectual Disability.
Sierra is currently pursuing her Masters in Social Work and Masters in Nonprofit Leadership at the University of Pennsylvania with a focus on social enterprises and global affairs. She has many years of experience in the food industry, 5 years experience working with people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, and has a passion to see Lancaster embrace diversity through inclusivity.
The dream for Meraki Mocha began five years ago. A woman Sierra knows has down syndrome and showed her a $3 paycheck compensating 70 hours of work. This equates to roughly 4 cents/hour. It was frustrating to see someone so capable and talented, who wanted to work, being taken advantage of at her job. Meraki Mocha is a means to address this problem in a very practical way.
The eventual goal for Sierra and Meraki Mocha is to open a cafe here in Lancaster. You can help this incredible team make this dream a reality and thus also show our County that a thriving wage for those with Intellectual Disability is not only possible but worth doing.
Help us share this wonderful and worthwhile idea in our community! Best of luck to Sierra and the team already working with her.