Yogi Grind Owner Elvis Garcia Earns 2021 Social Justice Award

Photo by Megan Sokol. Co-owners Elvis and Teddy Garcia.

Wenatchee native Elvis Garcia has recently earned the 2021 Wenatchee Valley Civil Rights and Social Justice award on Jan. 24, 2022, for his contributions to the LGBTQ+ and other marginalized communities.
Garcia was speechless when he realized that not only was he nominated for the award but that he would also receive the award. In June 2021, Garcia had made banners for neighboring downtown businesses to put up during Pride month.

"I told them all the banners are going to be sponsored by local businesses. They're going to have the local business logo on them and families who wants to also sponsor. Our foundation name was not on them," Garcia explained. "It wasn't about growing our foundation, it's about showing and bringing visibility."

The banners were sold for $100 each and they cost approximately $80 to make, giving us a net profit of $20 for each banner. Unfortunately the Garcias were not able to meet their financial goal for scholarships.

Garcia had also helped raise scholarship funds for the LGBTQ+ community and students of color. The Elvis Garcia Foundation was started in March of 2021. The funds were aimed to give $1-5k scholarship "Gap grants" to those working on an employment or educational venture, whether that be for college or a nontraditional career route, for example, a yoga instructor.

"We believe that as a foundation that you can't be a good student and learn your trade if you're worrying about hunger, if you're worried about where you're going to sleep that night."

Garcia states that coming back to Wenatchee felt like he was coming back home. He had left for Seattle in 2006 and came back to Wenatchee in 2019. Garcia had co-founded his first Yogi Grind business in Seattle with his husband Teddy Garcia.

"Everything was really good, smooth sailing. Our coffee shop, hit it off right away. Our yoga studio was picking up steam. And then as soon as the pandemic hit, and we (had to) close down, like we were still in our first year of business," Garcia said. "It's like a plant, if it doesn't get well established in that first year, it's hard to build off of that."

The idea to combine a coffee shop to their already established yoga studio came from a brainstorming session with Teddy. It was only recently that Elvis' s love for plants inspired them to expand their merchandizing to include plants.

Garcia explained that it was also by expanding their yoga studio to include food and drinks that helped save the Yogi Grind during the pandemic.

"What kept us alive [were] the drinks. People were coming in and getting drinks, people were ordering food and that's also how we expanded more into food."

Since coming back to Wenatchee, Elvis has noticed a considerable change to the Wenatchee Valley's gradual acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community. Although he noted some pushback that East Wenatchee Mayor Jerrilea Crawford received for contributing to Garcia's foundation, he notes how much more accepting Wenatchee has become.

"The amount of positive feedback and the amount of kindness that went out. We got messages from people saying that they had kids that were like 'we have no idea that we were so accepted in the city. They felt seen for the first time," Garcia explained. "Never would my 15-year-old self would have imagined that and so it's definitely have come a long way."

Some of the businesses who bought Garcia's banners include the American Shoe Shop, the Firehouse Pet House, the Rhubarb Market, and the Original Childrens Shop.


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