Since moving to Colorado Springs in 2013, Joseph Bloom has sought out different opportunities to help build up the community.
“I started by looking for ways to elevate some of the current community-building things that were already going on,” he said. “I mean why wouldn’t you want to build up the community that you’re a part of, and make it better?”
The Long Island, New York native has volunteered with Hillside Connection, Colorado Springs Food Rescue, Soil Cycle, HOME Downtown, Boulder Street Church, COSILoveYou, Corner Dignity and Poetry719.
However, the project he is most passionate about is his work with the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind, where his wife teaches.
“I would say this is the project I’m most passionate about,” he said. “My father-in-law is actually deaf and blind. So for me that was another community I was never part of, but am now.”
As the manager of Switchback Coffee Roasters, located in the Shooks Run neighborhood not far from the school, Bloom said he noticed a lot of deaf students frequented the shop.
“A lot of them seemed really comfortable ordering, but I felt like there was a gap there that we could fill to allow for the blind students to come from the dorms also,” he said. “For them, they’re trying to learn independence but there’s a real hindrance when they go to restaurants on ordering off the menu.”
Bloom partnered with one of the main dorm supervisors at the school to start offering the coffee shop’s menu and signage in Braille.
“That’s something that I feel like I haven’t seen yet in the Springs,” he said. “We’re also teaching deaf etiquette and basic sign language to all of our staff, in order to help communicate with the students.”
Corrie Smith, who nominated Bloom as a Rising Star, described him as someone “who has faithfully done so much for his community, quietly showing up to serve.”
“I’d simply like to voice that he uses Switchback as a venue for community discourse and growth,” she wrote in his nomination. “Whether it’s establishing a market for neighbors, having the mobile library onsite or hiring staff from the community, Joseph is committed to helping his community flourish.”
Bloom said it was humbling to learn he was selected as a Rising Star.
“It’s a very honoring thing to feel like, ‘Oh man, the impact is there — the impact is being seen,’” he said. “It’s very exciting ... it’s nothing that’s taken for granted.”
“Regardless of whatever position that I’m in or that I see people in, I think giving back to the community and putting back into where you live is probably the most important thing you can do,” he added.
Bloom’s advice for other young professionals is to stop waiting for perfection — because there’s no such thing.
“You just have to start somewhere,” he said. “It think Bob Goff says something like this in one of his books: Dream big and everything else will align later, and build people while you’re doing it because nothing can be done alone.”