Farewell from Dora

Ultimate Coffee began with Bison, Nobi and I on a Zoom call with Jude LaRene in the midst of a pandemic pitching the idea of a coffee delivery service to raise money for DiscNW with a simplified powerpoint. I don’t think we realized what a big undertaking this was until Jude agreed to host the program and suddenly, we all had jobs way too big for us. I was program director with no commercial experience beyond corner lemonade stands with toy cash registers, Nobi was our volunteer coordinator trying to recruit volunteers who were at least two years older than him, and Bison was delivery coordinator as an eighth grader. Soon, I was meeting with roasters and negotiating wholesale prices which was terrifying, especially as someone who has never been very outgoing (they say I didn’t talk for the first month of kindergarten). At first, it was definitely a fake-it-till-you-make-it situation, I had no idea what I was doing nor the social skills to do any of it but the one thing I could do was pay attention to the little things like what to say when you called a roaster or what time of day subscription orders created. Soon enough, the details added up to a reasonable understanding of how we, as Ultimate Coffee, would operate. And while not always knowing what was going on in the moment was stressful, looking back on these few years my favorite parts have been watching us grow, not our milestones but the countless lessons we learned along the way.

As an organization, we have been far from perfect. Our delivery systems have crashed, we have forgotten to do our deliveries or delivered to the wrong address and we've planned many last minute events. But what I think came through in each of those moments of what felt like chaos, was how much we cared. Everyone has been willing to go the extra mile to make this work whether that meant delivering coffee all over Seattle on Friday night because other volunteers were out of town, writing notes to customers apologizing for delivery mishaps, or texting every volunteer to make sure they could come to an event. And clearly, it wasn't just us that cared, you, our customers, cared enough to stick with us as we learned how to make this model work. From Jude allowing us to run this under DiscNW, Lighthouse Roasters believing in us and being the most supportive partner we could ask for, you trusting high schoolers with your caffeine supply, and volunteers giving us their Fridays, this investment in our mission to support youth ultimate and this trust in us, is what I’m most grateful for. To me, Ultimate Coffee has proven how powerful community can be, even in a time when the world feels like it's shattering.

Now, 4 years and 2500 bags of coffee later, we have the systems smoothed out and we’re putting the sustainability of this program to the test, handing over our four coordinating roles to younger members of Ultimate Coffee. We’ve spent months training them and they’ve embraced the challenge, leading meetings and planning events. Now, we’ve left them on their own with the hope that we’ve provided them the tools and knowledge to not only continue the program but make it their own.

I am amazed that what began with three starry-eyed kids who missed frisbee has blossomed into a beautiful community of over 25 volunteers and 65 customers bonded by the desire to spread the joy of ultimate as far as possible. Together, we have raised over $20,000 for the DiscNW Youth Development Fund. So, once again, thank you for making this dream come true.