TeachIdaho Upcoming Events:
Oct. 22: Don't miss our seminar/presentation on Classroom Management: Special Needs.
Jen Kurdy--Special Educator, Sage International School, will talk about different scenarios that might take place with students where teachers and para-professionals are working directly with students who need diversification. This scenario based presentation will offer best practice solutions to teachers and paras.
Liza Long--Author, Blogger, Educator, will share some of classroom management techniques that work with students who have behavioral issues that may affect the classroom. Liza's new book, The Price of Silence: A Mom's Perspective on Mental Illness, is available online now.
TWIN FALLS • The future founder of a Twin Falls coffee company was struck with an idea 10 years ago.
Jason Bobango, heavily involved in social work, was tired of seeing little money given to worthwhile programs. He jokes that the budget for his program at a low-income housing project consisted of 75 cents that workers found in an office couch.
“We started thinking of different ways to make money for the programs to pay for basic supplies and materials,” he said. Then he came across a fundraising website for coffee.
Bobango now has his own Stokin’ Joe Coffee. He has a vested interest in his “social enterprise.” His 7-year-old son was diagnosed with autism four years ago, and he hopes his company can make a difference.
Stokin’ Joe Coffee and the Idaho nonprofit TeachIdaho have collaborated on a promotion to create The Idaho Autism Education Fund, which Bobango said will help Idaho special education teachers get more training and certification to help the increasing number of children diagnosed with autism.
The company will contribute $3 per bag sold online at www.noavgjoe.com from now to Dec. 5. If 2,000 bags are sold, the contribution will increase to $4 per bag, up to $8,000.
Kali Kurdy, co-director of TeachIdaho, said she’s excited about the agreement.
“Schools have their hands full in dealing with children with autism,” she said.
Kurdy retired after 33 years as a teacher, but her daughter teaches special education.
“I have had a lot of autistic students in my home,” she said.
Early on, Bobango and his wife Cindy suspected their son had developmental difficulties. Having previously worked with clients with autism, “we recognized a few things,” he said. The family was fortunate to have colleagues who helped test and diagnose their son.
“We had a lot of intervention early, and we were blessed with that,” Bobango said. “We know a lot of families don’t.”
Given his situation, Bobango said it makes sense for his company to support the cause. However, he doesn’t want to stop there. One of his company’s mottos is to sell direct-trade coffee to pay for development of sustainable projects and programs that improve, empower and save lives.
The coffee, bought directly from growers or cooperatives in coffee-producing countries, is sold online.
“We want to focus on issues regarding health and other areas that we can have a positive impact on. We don’t want to provide just the same services that everyone else provides,” Bobango said. “I envision four or five different coffee blends, and people can pick the cause they want to support.”
His dreams are big, but proceeds so far are small. Since he began the enterprise in earnest in March, he’s sold about 250 pounds of product.
“We definitely have plans to expand. If it’s slow, so be it. If it’s overnight, great. We would love to have that problem.”
He hopes his java becomes the next big thing, such as Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.
To fulfill his dream, Bobango knows he needs to sell a lot of coffee. He said 85 percent of adults drink coffee, with most drinking two or three cups daily.
If he can get enough people to replace one of those cups with one of his, he said, he would have enough money to make a difference.
For now, Bobango is doing marketing and substitute teaching while working on his coffee business.
“You get up every morning,” he said. “You take a shower and get dressed and do the best you can.”