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Nonprofit offers jobs and training to resettled refugees

From left, Jessica Darnell, Kitti Murray, Leon Shombana, Eleni Tsegu and Caleb Goodrum are part of Refuge Coffee in Clarkston.

by Justin Beaudrot

Refuge Coffee Company is a newly established 501c3 nonprofit organization that offers jobs and job training for resettled refugees living in Clarkston.

Founder Kitti Murray came up with the idea for a coffee shop after speaking with neighbors, and realized it could fill the need for a central place where the community could relax and enjoy coffee.

Murray formed a team and worked to develop a plan to meet this goal with the knowledge of Clarkston’s large resettled refugee community and unemployment rate in mind, Refuge Coffee was developed.

Currently, the nonprofit is operating as a coffee truck with two refugees hired and working. The decision to begin Refuge Coffee as a truck came from the idea to start small. This also enables them to attend various events around the county and in Atlanta.

Jessica Darnell, director of relations and training, is in charge of carrying out refugee job training using a job-training curriculum supplied by Raleigh-based nonprofit Jobs for Life. This includes a weekly class that assists resettled refugees with cultural adjustments geared toward good interview practices, financial planning and more.

Eleni Tsegu, a resettled refugee from Ethiopia, said she enjoys working with Refuge Coffee and meeting new people.

“I went to the interview. … The board of Refuge Coffee Co. said I passed the interview, and then I was very happy,” Leon Shombana, a resettled refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said. “I feel at home [here].”

Both Tsegu and Shombana are participating in the Jobs for Life job training. Refuge Coffee plans to expand its hours and operations in the coming months.

Murray also mentioned plans to be open 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, June 20, at the corner of East Ponce de Leon Avenue and Market Street in Clarkston for World Refugee Day.

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