Seven dollars doesn’t stretch the way it used to — not in America, at least.
But in Africa, $7 can mean the difference between life and death, and one organization — the Mocha Club — is
Renee Cutaia of the Coffee Bar @Bailey’s joined the Mocha Club in 2007 after she went to a performance by Matt Wertz, one of the many musicians who support and promote the organization’s efforts at their concerts by hosting sign-up booths for recruiting new members.
Cutaia — who admits she was initially intrigued by the promise of a free Mocha Club t-shirt — was ultimately convinced when she learned that for just $7 a month she could help make a big impact in the lives of people suffering thousands of miles away. She’s been a member ever since.
Lady Antebellum — the band that recently won the coveted “Song of the Year” award at the 53rd annual Grammy Awards — is also a proponent of the Mocha Club, and stipulates that all of their donations go to education projects in South Africa.
But there are many categories that potential donors can select from, including child mothers and women at risk, clean water, education, HIV/AIDS and health care and orphan care.
There are also emergency causes — people suffering from HIV/AIDS, lack of clean water and relief for genocide survivors and refugees — that people can immediately make direct, one-time donations to.
But the beauty of Mocha Club is that to be a member, all it takes is $7 per month — or, roughly the cost of two mochas.
Mocha Club began when Director Barrett Ward was leading a trip of college students to Africa in 2004 and discovered a shared discontent among the students who felt frustrated with their perceived inability to make an impact in Africa. This inspired Ward to create a new model for charitable donations — especially for individuals who may not have a lot of money to spare.
“Even when I was in college and broke as a joke, the monthly $7 never affected me,” Cutaia said.
But it adds up.
That’s why Cutaia decided to pitch the idea of forming a special Coffee Bar @Bailey’s donation team to her fellow baristas.
“Of course I didn’t want to force them, but I wanted to introduce the concept to them,” Cutaia said, noting that when she told her co-worker Quinton Foshee about Mocha Club, he immediately signed up for his own account — and many other CB@B baristas are also jumping on board. “Everyone loved the idea of giving up our tips and spare change for Mocha Club and I think we’ve started a little fire. I also love that they’re taking the initiative to sign up as members on their own. It was something that we all wanted to do together as a staff, but you’d be surprised how fast that $7 adds up.”
Funds raised by the CB@B team will go to support education, but Cutaia’s personal monthly donations support the cause she originally signed up for.
“Right now I’m supporting women at risk, but it’s really difficult to say that any one cause is more worthy than another,” Cutaia said — but she also supports other Mocha Club endeavors, including FashionABLE, a program that helps implement sustainable business opportunities for disadvantaged African women. “These women learn to make scarves to support themselves and I actually bought two of them, and they’re just beautiful. I always get compliments when I wear the FashionABLE scarves, and they’re coming out with new styles all the time. All of the Mocha Club programs are really cool — and it’s really easy to give. Every little bit helps.”
For more information on how to become a member of Mocha Club, Mocha Club programs and causes and for other ways to donate, go to www.themochaclub.org'>www.themochaclub.org.
The Coffee Bar @Bailey’s, located at 2477 Periwinkle Way inside of Bailey’s General Store on Sanibel Island, is open every day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Fact BoxWhat are you passionate about?
Choose one of the Mocha Club’s five project areas to support for just $7 — the cost of two mochas — per month.
Child Mothers & Women At Risk
Women and children are often the most exposed and abused victims of injustice, especially in the war-torn areas of Africa. In Nazaret, Ethiopia, Mocha Club helps rehabilitate women in Ethiopia who were forced into a life of prostitution as an attempt to escape their situation of poverty. The program provides spiritual, emotional, and psychological counseling and helps them find alternate means of income to support themselves and their children.
There are 300 million people in Africa who do not have access to clean drinking water. The Mocha Club is currently building wells in the Sudan for refugees of the Darfur genocide, who are often forced to live in wilderness areas where they have to drink muddy water, if they are able to find any water at all.
The Mocha Club supports education projects in several countries, addressing each country's needs individually. They’ve built schools in Ethiopia and Kenya, and because a lack of education often leads to unemployment, they also help fund job-training centers in South Africa and the Kibera slums of Kenya.
HIV/AIDS & Health Care
Africa is home to 66 percent of the world’s HIV/AIDS population and in some countries, one in every three people carries the HIV virus. Malaria is responsible for as many as half the deaths of African children under the age of five and in Africa alone, this disease kills more than one million children a year – which translates to a shocking 2,800 per day. The life-saving medications for these diseases cost just a few dollars a month.
Mocha Club strives to eventually eradicate the disease by providing medical attention, education, and the elimination of poverty through job training opportunities for infected people.
Orphan Care & Vulnerable Children
Disease and war have taken the lives of countless parents in Africa, leaving behind many orphans. The Mocha Club We has orphan care projects in Sudan, Ghana, Kenya and Zimbabwe where they provide orphaned children with safe housing, protection and complete care.