When I was 24, I saw an ad on the paper that said: “Manager for Scoop Shop staffed by homeless runaway youth.” I decided to apply, and that’s how I became Juma Ventures’ first employee. It was actually called Larkin Ventures at the time.
My first task consisted of turning an old laundromat into the Ben & Jerry’s scoop shop that still stands on Chestnut Street nowadays. So yeah, I did meet Ben and Jerry! I also recruited and trained the youth that became our first class of employees.
There were ten of them, a very ambitious, hungry and excited group who were ready for the job but still had tons of challenges in their lives. Juma gave them employment but they also needed to have additional support around them, so as time went by we realized that building out our own network of services providers was a really good way to go. That became the very beginning of what is now a very large support system for the youth who are part of Juma.