a social legacy where people meet coffee | Kitti Murray and Emily Chang

What a fun chat with my incredible friend, Kitti! This Spare Room hero is featured in chapter six of my book with her story, “The Last House.” You should know, Kitti’s kind of a big deal; she was just featured on the Kelly Clarkson show! This woman of action and heart made a big move a few years ago: she left the relaxed suburbs of Atlanta to relocate in America’s most diverse city. Did you know? Nearly sixty nationalities are represented in Clarkston, Atlanta, over half are foreign born and most of those are resettled refugees. In this unique corner of America, Kitti has built a social legacy where people meet coffee.

a social legacy where people meet coffee | Kitti Murray and Kelly Clarkson

Kitti founded Refuge Coffee Co in Clarkston, where a delicious cup of coffee serves as a platform for job training and personal development of resettled refugees and other immigrants. You’d never know it from the amazing brew and cool vibe of the shops, but Kitti has built Refuge Coffee as a 501c3 non-profit, so every purchase provides wages for a resettled refugee or immigrant.

a social legacy where people meet coffee | Refuge Coffee Shop

Kitti finds way to inspire and uplift with every human interaction. In our recent chat, she taught me 3 things:

Learn to recycle suffering.

When we’re feeling oh-so-weary, what can we do to turn that suffering to joy? Take a break. Kitti recently took a 10-week sabbatical. As a hard-charger, stepping away reminded her that “we’re not what we do, we’re not what people say we are, and we’re not what we have.” I love this sentiment! We all need to periodically ground ourselves in who we are and what we have to offer. And it’s nearly impossible to do this amidst the storms of daily life. So if you’re feeling particularly broken down, take a break and sit in the silence. You’ll find your suffering begin to transform to joy!

Sit in the sorrow.

When confronted (or slammed in the face) with sorrow, our natural instinct is to run away. Without thinking, we seek to minimize, avoid, or repress feelings of sorrow. Every day, Kitti pours her life into people who have endured more in their short lives, than any person should experience across many lifetimes. So she’s learned to sit with the sorrow. She noted that while some try to move in the opposite direction of sorrow, others dive right in and try to fix problems. But the problems of the world are so big, and many people don’t need (or can’t have) their problems fixed. Sometimes, they just need us to sit with them in the sorrow.

Having fun is restorative.

Kitti defines her social legacy as “lighten-ing the world with fun.” This is awesome! Fun should not be underestimated. People like Kitti bring buoyancy to the world, and their light-hearted love leaves people smiling, and the room brighter. She speaks of how fun is more than a moment of happiness; it’s restorative.

a social legacy where people meet coffee | former Refuge Coffee trainees

Kitti has helped loads of refugees find their footing in the States. She’s elevated the Clarkston community. Her team brews amazing coffee with beautiful smiles, but it’s more than that. Kitti has created a social legacy where people meet coffee.

Watch my full chat with Kitti on my Youtube channel here.

To meet more #thespareroomheroes, check out:

The ladies behind “The Creatures” from Chapter Five

Quentin in “The Dance” from Chapter Three

Photo source: CNN article