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Callie's Coffee: How One Family Makes a Difference

September 06, 2013

Earlier this summer, the Bill & Melinda Gates Visitor Center invited StoryCorps to come to the foundation. We spent three days recording audio stories from inspiring folks in the community on the topic of “Who Inspires You to Make a Difference?” We were humbled to listen to these incredible stories and are thrilled to share our first story on our Facebook page, which we will be updating monthly with new stories.

Kicking off our series is Callie and her dad Ryan. Callie and her family started Callie’s Coffee when Callie was 7. Callie’s young friend, Ben, died at the age of three and a half from an incurable form of neuroblastoma and Callie wanted help prevent other children from suffering the way Ben and his family did. Today, Callie’s ships coffee all across the country, with 100 percent of the profits going to the Ben Towne Foundation. Callie started more than just a non-profit – she inspired her father to quit his job and devote his time to supporting the cause.

We caught up with Ryan to see what he thought about the interview experience with his daughter. Learn more in the short interview below.

What is the most surprising thing you have learned from starting Callie’s Coffee?

I have been most surprised at what starting Callie’s Coffee has taught me. Of course, initially I started down this path as a parent. It was a way for me to ‘walk the talk’ with Callie. My wife and I can tell our kids what we believe in, but this was a chance to show them. So it’s pretty ironic that I have probably learned more than anyone. When you do live out what you say you believe, in an everyday way, it starts to change your heart. Spending most of my time and energy on something that truly reflects my values and priorities has brought a fulfillment I didn’t even know I was missing. 

Tell us about your experience with StoryCorps.

Callie and I really enjoyed the chance to reflect on the past year and I ended up sharing a few things with Callie that we hadn’t talked about together. What I most appreciate about our experience at StoryCorps is the true record it gives us of this moment in time. No matter where things go from here. However fast Callie grows up, and regardless of how busy life gets, StoryCorps gave us this huge gift. Pictures are so great for chronicling memories, but this interview actually records how we felt. That is something we will always treasure.   


Click here to listen to Callie and Ryan’s audio story.

Get Involved

  • Meet Callie and her family in person at our free event, Family Day: Kids Can where kids can participate in a series of arts and crafts, games and activities that demonstrate ways kids can get involved in giving back.

  • Join us at the Visitor Center to explore our full library of stories about making a difference. Stay tuned throughout the year as we publish new stories on our Facebook page each month.

  • Follow the Visitor Center on Facebook and Twitter and inspire your community by sharing your own story of making of difference using the #InspirationStory hashtag.

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