Chocolate and Coffee Day for Religious Harmony
What do you do?
Chocolate and Coffee Day for Religious Harmony on the 15th December, encourages people to come together over a "cuppa" (a cup of tea or coffee) and some chocolate and open up conversations around how to be a more inclusive community. It's about people reaching out and sharing with friends, groups, workplaces or organisations; share a cuppa and some chocolate, talk and be open about how they can invite others into their lives. Of course, ideally, if they can reach out to someone new who appears different to them and say “let’s have a cuppa” even better! It is simply in the listening to each other that we break down walls and barriers. This is always much easier over a cuppa.
What do you love most about what you do?
Sharing Chocolate and Coffee together gives us the opportunity to open up and share our own stories with each other. It opens our eyes and our hearts to those in our community who may appear to be different to us. It presents us with the challenge to maybe take a little time and get to know someone who we may have otherwise thought was too different to us to have a conversation with. It opens our hearts to be able to recognise that opposites really are the same.
It is a simple approach and anyone, anywhere can participate, whether they are with a large group, with one or two people or even on their own. They can mark the day on Social Media.
What is the vision for your project/business/cause?
It seems to me that the majority of people are loving and accepting and we want everyone in our community to feel safe and that they are valued, yet, we are the "silent majority". We don't stand up for what we think or believe because it is hard for us to even contemplate that there is any other way of thinking or being. But we do need to have our voice heard. We need to find ways of ensuring that we honour our values and make sure that we express this to all we come in contact with in every way we can. With this is mind, the vision is that people all over the world share in Chocolate and Coffee and take up the challenge to reaching out to someone they thought was just too different to themselves.
What are some defining moments in your life that got you where you are today?
The defining moment for the conception of this idea came from the response of the greater community after a siege at the Lindt Chocolate Café in Sydney in December 2014. The lone gunman claimed to be taking hostages in the name of ISIS. When the siege was over we didn't know how people would respond. Would there be retaliations on the Muslim community.
While we all held our collective breath waiting to see what the response would be, there was a glimmer of light, as people started to reach out to others with #Iwillridewithyou emerged. People all over Sydney and Australia were offering to ride the public transport with Muslim people to ensure that they were safe. The message was clear, you are a valued member of our society and you are not responsible for what one person did.
This moment spoke to me so deeply. This is the society I want to live in. Why do we have to have a tragedy before people step forward and have their voices heard? Why can’t we make it known every day that we want to live in a society that loves and accepts all regardless of race, religion, or culture. And so, Chocolate and Coffee Day was born.
What inspires you to keep focused on what you love to do?
I am passionate about community and people living together in a world where we all feel loved, safe and have a sense of belonging. My core value is the "worth of all persons" and I love the richness that diversity brings to our society.
We live in a time when the fear of terrorism is creating a divided world. We have seen far too much hatred and fear in our history that has led to atrocities that are too horrid to repeat. We can't depend on world leaders to create the peaceful loving world that we all want to live in. It is up to us, as individuals, to step up and have our voices heard that we choose to break down the barriers of religion and culture and create a harmonious community where every person can feel valued and safe.
What are some of the biggest challenges you've overcome so far?
My biggest challenge has been in sharing this message. Media, generally, aren't interested in good news or positive messages. Everyone loves the idea when they hear about it, however don't always grab hold that of the concept that this is something that can do, where they are. That they don't have to do anything more than to share a cuppa and have a conversation. While many workplaces have embraced the idea, getting more of them to open up to it and start the conversations in their workplace that everyone is accepted is always a challenge.
Is there anyone you haven't met yet who is an inspiration to you? What would you say?
There are many people in this world doing inspirational things who are not known on the world stage. These are the people I love to meet and get to know and understand. I love to hear the stories of personal passions that seem to come from nowhere - from what I call Beyond the Why, they have no personal reason for doing this, they see it needs to be done and they grab it with everything they have got and are driven to doing something extraordinary. These stories remind me that we, the ordinary everyday people can all do something extraordinary. We can all make a difference. We just need to respond.
How would you define community and do you feel it is important? Why?
Community is where people have that sense of belonging. We all have a deep need to belong. A community is developed out of this sense of being in a common - unity together. We have something in common, whether it be where we live or work, a sense of values, it comes with a desire to build something greater than ourselves.
When we create community, we remove limitations from our growth potential. We nurture and empower each individual to embrace their own potential and in this we find our greatest potential.
For me, community is something I am very passionate about. It flows into all areas of my life and not something I take for granted. People can live among us and work with us without feeling apart of the community. We have to work at it. Aside from Chocolate and Coffee Day, I have taken the concept of community into my our business to build leadership that inspires community and social mission in business.
What is your favourite place in the world? Why?
I love Estonia. It is the homeland of my Grandfather. Also, in learning about the resilience of the people, I can't help but admire them. Any place that fought for its independence through song (The Singing Revolution) rather than battles of violence gets a big tick from me. There is truly something magical in many ways about this country.
How can people get in touch or participate in your cause?
I can be reached through ChocolateandCoffeeDay.com or Facebook channels. There is an information kit to help with ideas for holding your own Chocolate and Coffee Day on the website.
I can also be reached through my personal website: AndreaPutting.com.au
Please share any words of wisdom that you could offer our readers with the journey you've taken so far?
Overcoming prejudices and differences really can be as simple as sitting down and listening to someone with an open mind and an open heart. Give it a go, you never know where it can lead.
We'd love to know one more thing you absolutely LOVE about your life :)
I love that I am able to use my skills as a Speaker and author to inspire people to come together in community and business to create the world that we all want to live in.
CHOCOLATE & COFFEE DAY FOR RELIGIOUS HARMONY
on the 15th December!
Shari Mitteco is a delightful soul. I could feel her genuine passion for supporting women the first time we connected at a Women, Wine and Wellness event. Since then we have connected further and I was intrigued to know more about her adventures in business. With the notion that all things happen for a reason, I had that sense with meeting Shari, in fact we both laughed about it the next time we caught up. When we spoke, there was a level of honesty and compassion.
Women, Wine and Wellness (WWW) is a business system where women can connect and build friendships in a professional, yet fun and genuine way.
Shari shares a little about her background and why she decided to get involved with WWW. “I got into the fitness and nutrition industry because I started my first diet at the age of 12. I was obsessed with “fixing” myself and became immersed in nutrition and exercise. Once I broke free from my disordered eating, I wanted to help everyone I could with unhealthy eating behavior and developed the Diet Terminator program. So, this is what I taught and was a personal trainer for 16 years. I built my business through networking. When I found out the founder of one of the groups I was attending, was going to sell hers, I knew intuitively, the business was going to be mine. I then took it over - 5 years ago. Although still similar, I adjusted a few things to fit where my business was going, as it had changed as well. I coach fitness, health and wellness professionals to have thriving businesses.”
There is also business support for the guys too, the “brother” system similar to WWW. Shari elaborates, “One of the vehicles people can use to develop community, build relationships and a client stream is my system with Women, Wine & Wellness and our “brother” system, “Beer, Buddies & Better Health" (we couldn’t leave the guys out). I teach them everything from how to get started in hosting successful events to how to grow business through those connections.” explains Shari.
She also mentioned recently WWW had expanded into other countries. ”We are based in the Denver metro area with many events here and we are also in Florida, Idaho, Montana, and most excitingly in Australia.” Women can get involved in many ways, “attending events near them, speaking at events, sponsoring tables to highlight their businesses at events, and owning and operating their own chapter to run and host the events.” Shari continued.
Women, Wine and Wellness is a great way to expand and develop an existing business, create more opportunities and join a professional community focused in the wellness industry. If women would like to get involved the process begins with an application and interview process. "If it’s a good fit, whoever is interested then purchases the license to own a chapter and use the tools. Then, we get started with an initial training to get them up and running and there is ongoing support and training after that. It’s completely turn-key. What I recommend is that a woman who owns a business open a chapter as a way to build relationships and community that surrounds them and their business. The event system is part time.”
Having attended a couple of WWW events, it has been a very relaxed yet professional atmosphere. For someone like me who is far from a hard-core networker or sales person, I look for business environments that are genuinely supportive with a positive impact, that are empowering and heart-centered. And, indeed they are out there, in fact, Shari described the business style as “natural”. This is perfect for wellness professionals.
Every person I have spoken to about their business, all have had challenges and highlights. I know on a personal note, both the highs and lows have been incredibly inspirational and have brought an immense amount of gratitude. This was also reflected in Shari’s own experiences, “I’ve met so many amazing women over the years – some have even become my very best friends.” We then spoke about the challenges, "Hmmm….. Transitions are the hardest but also the most exciting.” she says. I had to agree with her. Change can be exhilarating and also a little scary sometimes. It is in the realm of the Unknown. No matter how much I believe I know about what might happen, I only really know one thing for sure - that I must trust in something greater than myself and take the leap.
Shari also shared how she has an amazing support network both personally and professionally. I resonated with this sense of community. I feel that without that added support and guidance from others whom I trust, it would be so much more difficult. Being a lone ranger can have its benefits sometimes, although, when it comes to reaching a mountain top, or setting out across an ocean, a lot of support is necessary. Plus, when I am gifted the company of those who encourage me, I am reminded why I do what I do.
Honesty and encouragement are so important. I feel it is an imperative part of success to have people in my environment that are supportive. The “inner-encourager” also keeps the inner-critic in balance. I feel as women (men have this dynamic also), we learnt how to compete and compare ourselves to each other and this can cause a lot of heartache. I asked how Shari felt about women supporting women and how important she feels it is, “Absolutely! It’s how we thrive – women do better when we build relationships and collaborate. When we all support each other, we all win.”
Overcoming these ingrained social systems and behaviours opens doors where everyone can benefit in various ways. As Shari points out, some of these social behaviours are extremely difficult depending on cultures, yet it is shifting. This shift is sometimes painfully slow, and then, occasionally, as a collective we experience incredible breakthroughs.
While Shari supports women in business, she has also been writing a book and focusing on some new programs that help business owners thrive with community and relationship based marketing. She also shares these words of wisdom; “The biggest mistakes I see people making are either pushing the sell too hard or too quickly. By allowing the relationship to move forward and more naturally, business comes more naturally and it doesn’t have to feel salesy. A giving attitude is key.”
Blog written by Laura Naomi
© Laura Naomi, 2017
For enquiries about attending a Women, Wine and Wellness event near you please reach out to Shari through the contact details below.
For those who are interested in running their own WWW events there is an application form on the website.