Donor Story: The Berkins Family Fund

Andréa Hawkins and Doug Barber have been making a difference in Greater Hartford for more than half a century. Andréa served on the board of the Amistad Center for Art and Culture for more than two decades while launching her own consulting firm, Leading Culture Solutions. Doug gave up his role as Director of Rehabilitation at nonprofit Jerome Home when the couple decided to open Berkins Blend Cafe, an independent coffee shop in Glastonbury. Beyond beverages and baked goods, they offer their shop as a free meeting space for jobseekers, aspiring writers, and community groups. Since opening their first store in 2015, the successful entrepreneurial couple have expanded to two Hartford locations: Berkins on Oak (near the Connecticut State Capitol) and Berkins on Main (inside the Wadsworth Atheneum).

Andréa and Doug chose to open the Berkins Family Fund as a gift to each other.  After a difficult year, the couple wanted to celebrate, but instead of buying something only they could enjoy, they decided to share their resources to help others. The Berkins Family Fund will support nonprofit organizations that assist entrepreneurial people of color who are interested in starting a new program. “Over the last six years, we’ve started four new businesses,” said Andréa. “We know what it takes, and we’d love to help early-stage nonprofits, or support two organizations with similar missions in combining forces and delivering solutions together.”

“Our young adult children know that we want them to have input into the types of organizations we, as a family, support. The Berkins Family Fund has a full family impact, and, hopefully, a full legacy impact. Our entire family is excited about it.”

(Photo courtesy of Keith Claytor, TimeFrozen Photography)