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Supporting Foster Families Through Connection - And Coffee

Supporting Foster Families Through Connection - And Coffee

Published 07-19-23

Submitted by Truist

Becky and Tony Santoro are always willing to face challenges. One might even say the couple raises a coffee cup to them.

But it’s not just any old cup. It’s one that’s fostered love and support throughout the community, as the couple lifts others through their coffee shops and foster family nonprofit. And it’s one that sparked Truist teammates, who have supported both efforts through volunteerism and putting the couple’s coffee shop in their headquarters.

Becky and Tony’s story really begins at Michigan State University, where the couple met and bonded over a love of coffee. Degrees in hand, they uprooted their lives for teaching careers in North Carolina. Next came the births of their two children and the challenge of providing for them. (“Our family was growing, but our paychecks were not,” is how Tony puts it.)

They faced that challenge by working even harder. Suddenly they had four jobs, including Tony’s burgeoning interest in starting a coffee business. He roasted beans in their driveway between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. before heading to teach.

Amid these challenges, they added another: becoming foster parents. Their experiences led them to create Foster Village, a nonprofit that provides practical and emotional support to foster families. It was a decision that would change their lives—and the lives of the fostering community in Charlotte, North Carolina.

It was a lot. And some might have crumbled under all these pressures. But for the Santoros, each challenge was another opportunity to smile at each other and ask, “Why not?”

A person getting a cup of coffee from a carafe

A loving space to give

During the Santoros’ seven years as teachers, they met children in the foster care system and witnessed the challenges of it.

They wanted to help, and explored the idea of becoming foster parents—despite their four jobs and their children, then ages 4 and 2. “I just felt like if we didn’t step into it, we’d always have an excuse not to,” says Becky, “and it felt like this was something that we were supposed to do. We still had this loving space to give.”

One hour after they were officially licensed, they got a call that a 1-year-old girl needed a safe home. Could they help?

The Santoros looked at each other and said, “Why not?”

The child came to them with just a blanket and the onesie she was wearing.

Two people sitting in purple chairs with coffee cups.

Doing good in the world through their beans

At the same time, Tony’s coffee business was getting underway. At first it was just a hobby. “I thought it was so interesting. You can buy green coffee beans, turn them brown, and then you can grind them and drink them,” he says.

His fondness for coffee is due in part to his courtship with Becky. Although the two grew up 3 miles apart in the Detroit suburbs, they didn’t meet till they got to Michigan State University, where Becky was a coffee shop barista. “When we’d go out to dinner, we wouldn’t get wine, we’d get coffee with dessert,” Tony says. “It was just always central to us.”

To make ends meet after the births of their children, Tony began selling his driveway-roasted coffee to friends, family, and even their church. That coffee was so popular that a friend asked, “What’s stopping you from making this your full-time career?”

That friend hired Tony to work for him and then slowly reduced Tony’s hours as that dream became a reality. Enderly Coffee Company began as a small-batch coffee-roasting business, focusing on great coffee and “doing good in the world through [their] beans.” They opened a coffee shop in Charlotte’s Enderly Park neighborhood, and in late 2021, a second coffee shop in Truist’s Charlotte headquarters.

It was fortunate there was plenty of coffee on hand for what came next.

Foster Village magnets and post cards.

Fostering a commitment to their community

When the couple began fostering, they expected it to be challenging, but the hardest parts weren’t what they’d anticipated. There were last-minute court dates and demands on their schedule. They assumed they’d find support through foster organizations, but “we started asking, ‘Where are the other foster parents, so we can just have some peer support?’ And we kept getting the answer that there really isn’t any peer support,” Becky says.

They decided to make the fostering experience better for other Charlotte-area families. Becky found a small Facebook group of local foster parents looking for community, all of whom were licensed by different adoption agencies. The group grew, and Becky recognized the momentum. “This isn’t just a personal need we have,” she says.

“There’s a gap in our city for supporting the caregivers who open up their homes.” Becky Santoro, co-founder and co-director of Foster Village Charlotte

The Santoros helped fill that gap with Foster Village, which they founded with others from that Facebook group. Many foster parents don’t continue fostering after their first placement, the couple says, because it’s so hard—and so isolating on top of that. Foster Village began addressing that isolation with peer support.

On the day Tony and Becky debuted their coffee shop in 2018, they also launched Foster Village. “I was on one side of town unpacking boxes, and Tony’s on the other side of town opening up a coffee shop,” Becky laughs.

A person holding up a coffee mug next to a tan stone wall.

A new business, a new organization—and a new baby

If that weren’t enough, the Santoros got another call from the agency they’d worked with before. Their foster daughter, whom they’d adopted, had a brother. Would they be interested in fostering him?

“Why not?” they both said (no doubt while putting on an extra pot of coffee).

“We had this new coffee shop and nonprofit, and then in walked our son like a hurricane,” Becky says. “He’s now our adopted son, and so now we have four kids under 11.”

That “I get it” feeling

There are close to 550 children in the foster care system in Charlotte but only 100 foster parents. Foster Village provides support for the people who open their homes to children who need them. There’s beauty in the kind of support “where people can look across the table from each other and have that ‘I get it’ feeling, and know that they can keep going,” Becky says. That support includes tangible items like a welcome pack, delivered by volunteers, that includes pajamas, water bottles, diapers—things a foster child may need but not necessarily show up with. “We believe that’s a time for us to give dignity to children who may be coming to a place with nothing,” she says.

Truist has long supported Foster Village. The Lighthouse Project is a companywide initiative that allows Truist teammates to address critical needs in their communities. Teammates choose nonprofit organizations to partner with, and Truist provides them with time off so they can offer hands-on support. Thousands of teammates have devoted thousands of volunteer hours of community service.

The Santoros laughing, holding coffee mugs.

Tony says that two of their friends work at Truist, and both donated to Foster Village as part of the Lighthouse Project. They didn’t know each other, but when they saw they’d both supported the same cause, they decided to do more. They gathered other teammates and tackled Foster Village’s entire Amazon wish list.

“The Lighthouse Project also funded a lot of our welcome pack essentials,” says Becky. “Everything from car seats to toddler beds to pajamas to hair care products.”

That’s how Truist teammates became familiar with Foster Village, and as the new Truist headquarters took shape in Charlotte, Truist teammate Tina Fullard, head of corporate programs and hospitality services, realized that Foster Village and Enderly Coffee were related to each other.

Fullard was helping develop the Innovation & Technology Center (ITC) on the 14th floor of the building, and her goal was to bring in local vendors. It was a lot more work to do so, but “this is what we say we are,” she says. “We want to build better lives and communities. How do we do that? We invest in small businesses.”

Becky packing a red bag with supplies.

That started a conversation with Aramark, Truist’s food management company, to put an Enderly Coffee location at Truist. In late 2021, the shop opened in the cutting-edge ITC.

“It just seems like our companies are cut from the same cloth,” Fullard says of Truist’s relationship with Foster Village and Enderly Coffee. “We want to align with partners who believe in the same things we do. And this partnership felt perfect.”

Truist teammates and others can give back with their cups of Enderly Coffee through Enderly’s Foster Village Blend coffee; proceeds help support Foster Village. “It’s a really solid medium roast,” says Tony. “Craft-roasted, ethically traded. And what we do is, as Foster Village has needs, we just jump in, write checks, buy supplies, and provide manpower, with those sales.”

“I love that I constantly hear from teammates, ‘Wow, this coffee is not only convenient— it’s actually good!” says Fullard.

Enderly coffee shop and Truist bank lobby.

Fostering dreams and paying it forward

Business has been brisk at ITC, and Tony is grateful for the support. “As a small, family-owned, local business, a partnership like this goes a really long way for us,” he says. “It would’ve been easy for Truist to put a big coffee company in there. I really like to see bigger organizations using their money intentionally to support the local economy. I think our world’s a better place when the local economy is flourishing in any city. That’s really important.”

“I really like to see bigger organizations using their money intentionally to support the local economy.” Tony Santoro, owner, Enderly Coffee

Enderly Coffee is indeed flourishing. After working with Aramark at Truist headquarters, Enderly is in talks to be the coffee supplier for future Aramark sites outside of Charlotte.

No matter how successful they get, the couple says that their purpose, through Foster Village and Enderly Coffee, is to lift up others. Tony hasn’t forgotten what his friend did to help him launch Enderly Coffee. In the same way, Tony supports the dreams of the people who work for him. “The jobs that we create are to support them in this season, similar to how my friend did for me,” he says.

Becky says it’s the same with the support Foster Village offers to those who need it. “Very much the root of who we are is we’re rooting for whatever you’re passionate about,” she says.

The santoros on a brick porch.


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Truist Financial Corporation is a purpose-driven financial services company committed to inspiring and building better lives and communities. Truist has leading market share in many high-growth markets in the country. The company offers a wide range of services including retail, small business and commercial banking; asset management; capital markets; commercial real estate; corporate and institutional banking; insurance; mortgage; payments; specialized lending; and wealth management. Headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, Truist is a top 10 U.S. commercial bank. Truist Bank, Member FDIC. Learn more at

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