Written By Holly Blackman
Reflections are sometimes painful, sometimes raw unearthed desires are dug up, left exposed. As Tony and Becky said goodbye to their dying neighbor in the early days of this year, they were forced to reflect on their journey - what led them to Enderly Park and what Enderly Coffee will be this year. You can view it as philanthropic if you like. Knowing Becky and Tony, their story goes far deeper than reflecting on their prized coffee beans. Down deep it is about relationships.
Enderly is about people.
People are all that matter.
It's not happenstance Tony and Becky are here in Charlotte, but it sure wasn't in their original plan. They left Michigan State University proudly wearing rose-colored glasses, education degrees under their arms like blueprints for teaching in Detroit's Brightmoor Neighborhood at City Mission Academy.
Brightmoor neighborhood was purchased by investors in the 1960s, has been run down and abandoned, and is now full of homes sitting vacant. empty. broken. A place awaiting new beginnings and creativity, but Charlotte Mecklenburg School System was recruiting hard, also awaiting creativity, and Tony and Becky believed they could benefit from building their experience before helping to build community in Detroit.
Thus (and thankfully), they found their place in Charlotte - Becky settled into a 3rd grade teacher position and Tony into a 5th grade teacher role, both spending most of their career in East Charlotte. However, they nestled across town into Enderly Park, building a nest for their kids who would come later, but also for 'their kids' - the next door neighbor who Becky and Tony tutored and the kids who would come over to climb trees or play football in the street. It was not uncommon for Becky to look out to door for Tony in the evening to find him under the street lights building relationships with the men in the surrounding houses or chatting on the neighbors porch, carrying a laundry basket full of laundry needing to be dried. People are what matter.
Their new abode was complete with a front yard for games, a porch swing, and an open door for tutoring. During all of this Tony and Becky remembered their roots - coffee, what led them to each other.
As their family grew, their roles changed and Becky began to work in the Children's Ministry at their church. Tony, after being awarded the Teacher of the Year award and reaching a point in his teaching career where he believed he could help others outside of the classroom just as much as inside the schoolhouse, his taste for coffee and love for roasting began to feel right. It even kept him up at night (roasting, of course).
Their love for people, families, neighbors, church members - Charlotte - never wavered, yet their passion in the classroom did as they began to grow their family and they had to find balance between the near impossible job of a teacher and a young, growing family. They found themselves with hearts for others and with hands around great cups of coffee - why couldn't they venture out and combine them?
There was no obligatory mission or agenda attached to their business. No, there was and just is love in crafting Enderly (after Enderly Park), one decision at a time.
Each bean selected is researched, "interviewed" as Tony selects those where the farmer is taken care of through fair trade. The environment is carefully considered because we want our beans to give back to others, not strip the land. But with all of the attention on beans, the real attention is on people chosen to work at Enderly (check them out here - What a crew!?) and the people who surround the Santoros. They are all selected out of love - to invest in the community and to love those around them on their front porches, next door, their church members, Charlotte.
You may not remember Tony and Becky, and that's okay. But know that it's not chance they are the people behind Enderly; their intentional journey has led them here.
Enderly has and always will be about people - loving them, educating them, investing in them - that is what has always filled the Santoro's cups and always will.
What fills your cup?