Leesburg’s SimpleBe Coffee has been awarded a national SourceAmerica 2022 Achievement Award for their work to offer employment for people with disabilities.
SourceAmerica connects government customers and other organizations to a national network of nonprofit agencies that hire people with disabilities.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, SimplyBe contracted with ECHO, a Loudoun disability services and employment nonprofit, to offer work to people interested in working at the coffee shop. SimplyBe hired six people with disabilities at ECHO to work in three teams during different shifts, five days a week. It was a lifeline for those employees as many of ECHO’s work sites remained closed due to the pandemic.
SimplyBe began as a venture by nonprofit Tree of Life and its co-founder and Executive Director Paul Smith.
“It’s a way to not only have a coffee shop where we can interact with the community and share the love of Jesus Christ, which is our number one goal, but it also allows us to employ people with disabilities who might not otherwise have a job,” said SimplyBe volunteer and supervisor Suzie Smith. “It gives them purpose and meaning, and it’s something that gives them value, allows them to earn some money, but also learn important life skills such as interacting with others, learning how to work a cash register, deal with money, make drinks, and so many other things.”
On May 11, SourceAmerica announced the coffee shop has been presented with a Business Partnership Award, which recognizes a business that has partnered with a SourceAmerica-affiliated nonprofit agency to increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
“People with disabilities are an essential part of our nation’s workforce. This year’s award winners have demonstrated strength, leadership, and tenacity through the recent challenges the workforce has faced,” said SourceAmerica President and CEO Richard Belden. “The SourceAmerica Achievement Award winners are shaping a more innovative and inclusive workforce.”
“An award like this is so important because there’s not enough business opportunities out there where people are focused on employing people with disabilities and that is the entire intention behind what we do,” Smith said. “… The award is phenomenal because it helps to promote businesses that are employing people with disabilities, but also helps to promote SimpleBe coffee and draws more people in here so that our employees can have more interactions with individuals in the community.”
This year’s awards recognized businesses and nonprofits across the country, from San Francisco, CA to Austin, TX to Washington, DC, for their work.
SimplyBe and the other winners of this year’s awards will be recognized at the Xforce Conference in Dallas, TX, May 23-25.
Lindsey Somers contributed to this report. She is a senior at Woodgrove High School completing her capstone project at Loudoun Now.
This article was updated May 31 at 5:44 p.m. with comment from Suzie Smith.