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Extra Special People named only Georgia finalist for Chick-fil-A True Inspiration Award


Local nonprofit Extra Special People was recently named as a finalist for the 2020 Chick-fil-A True Inspiration Award— the only organization in Georgia chosen to advance. 


According to the Chick-fil-A Foundation, the award is designed to “honor and support organizations from across the country who go above and beyond in the fields of innovative education, emerging leader development and youth entrepreneurship.” Two recipients from each region of the U.S. will receive the award based on popular vote and qualification from the Chick-fil-A Foundation. 

As a finalist, ESP will compete with organizations across Alabama, Mississippi and Florida for the Southeast award. The winner will receive $75,000 toward its mission.

If awarded the Chick-fil-A True Inspiration Award, ESP plans to use the funds to spread joy across the nation through Java Joy, a mobile coffee cart employing adults with disabilities. Java Joy travels to businesses across the Athens-Atlanta area serving coffee, hugs and transformational joy. Java Joy baristas, called Joyristas, meet people where they are in the community and always leave customers smiling. With plans to take Java Joy across the nation, ESP would use the award to help fund its expansion.

“We are truly honored and excited to be chosen as a finalist for the Chick-fil-A True Inspiration Award in the Southeast,” says Laura Whitaker, Executive Director of ESP. “It’s time to shout it from the rooftops and get people voting."


"To be selected as the winner for our region would be an honor for our team showing the tangible impact our joyristas have created in this area," Whitaker continues. "Our vision is to share the Java Joy experience with communities nationwide as we spread joy and provide meaningful employment opportunities to individuals of all abilities. This award would be a great step toward that goal.”

Voting for the Chick-fil-A True Inspiration Award begins ends Monday, Sept. 30.

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