Meg Vanbuskirk comes from a family of small business owners, but never envisioned herself as an entrepreneur. Instead, as a young girl she dreamed of being a teacher and graduated college with a degree in English education. It wasn’t until 2016, after she had been teaching high school English for six years, that Meg opened Paper City Coffee, a social good coffee shop located in Chillicothe, Ohio.
“During my fourth or fifth year, I started to develop a lot of close relationships with my students,” Meg says. “Teachers can really take care of kids and invest in them when they’re in their classroom, but [can’t control what happens when they go home].”
After doing extensive research on mentoring programs in her community, Meg realized that most resources for kids stopped once they graduated eighth grade. So, after brainstorming with a friend and colleague, Meg decided she wanted to start a mentoring program of her own for high schoolers.
But, funding for nonprofits in Chillicothe, which is home to an abundance of organizations, was competitive and Meg wanted to make sure her organization could be sustained financially. She eventually realized that there was also a need in the community for a welcoming space for people of all ages and backgrounds to come together, and Paper City Coffee was born.
As a social good company, Paper City Coffee donates its proceeds to the Paper City Mentoring Project [PCMP], a non-profit dedicated to providing mentorship to high school students in the area. The coffee shop also serves as a positive space for teens to meet with their mentors and receive a warm meal, free of charge.
“In my opinion, a social good company is a company where you can see that tangible positive impact on society because of the work the company is doing,” Meg says.
According to mentoring.org, one in three young people will grow up without a supportive caring adult to guide them through life decisions. At-risk youth who have a mentor are 55% more likely to enroll in college, 78% more likely to volunteer regularly, 90% more likely to become a mentor themselves and 130% more likely to hold a position of leadership.
PCMP currently works with 25 high school students who are paired with highly trained adult mentors. Mentors and mentees meet at Paper City Coffee once a week to discuss school and other life developments over a puzzle or cup of coffee.
From Meg’s ownership to each individual mentor, compassion is crucial to the mission of Paper City Coffee and PCMP. Meg says she wants Paper City Coffee to be a comfortable space for not only the mentors and mentees, but every single customer. This value is also clearly reflected in Paper City Coffee’s all-female staff.
“I have the most incredible staff of women who truly value people,” Meg says. “I watch them care about our customers and know them by name and know what’s going on in their lives.”
Meg even takes this one step further by being mindful of what her customers are surrounded by when they enter the cafe.
“Sometimes in Southern Ohio, we can run into closed mindedness,” she says. “So, I really want to provide a space where people are inspired to be more open minded, whether that’s the reading material we put out or the art that’s on the walls, we’re really trying to create an open minded environment.”