Belltown, we have the opportunity to meet a big challenge with a small solution: a few cups of coffee per week will help solve the problem of street involved and homeless youth overcoming obstacles on the way to leaving street life. This happens within a positive, peaceful space where people from the towers and people from the streets can interact naturally.
Perhaps you have discovered Street Bean Espresso at the corner of 3rd/Cedar. Street Bean is a place where people help bridge the gap between the world these youth want to leave, and the world of stability, employment, and healthy relationships beyond their embrace. These are young people trying to leave behind criminal activity, drug use, chaos, and an often tragic beginning marked by extreme abuse. For most of these kids, the streets were safer than their homes. But the street is a dead end, too. Street Bean offers them an opportunity to gain the hard skills of becoming a barista, establishing a work routine, cleaning, opening, closing, etc., and the soft skills of working with employers, coworkers and customers.
Those who venture forth to volunteer receive even more. As much as the youth are able to experience change and growth, executive director Jesse Davis explains that adults in the training and mentoring roles are also transformed: “When we get beyond the six week mark, relational issues begin to emerge. It requires give and take between mentors and youth; everyone concerned is challenged to stretch. You think you are the one serving, but you are being served as much as anyone.”Neighbors benefit from Street Bean’s existence in many ways: this is a great gathering spot, including free wifi, plenty of seating (and plugs for computers), a board room, stage and gallery space, occasional live music, poetry slams, and art installations. Along with serving excellent, direct-relationship, sustainably harvested and locally roasted coffee, Street Bean offers local, artisan pastries.
Check out Street Bean’s story, about how New Horizons Ministries gave birth to them in 2009. Read about their triple bottom line, and how they are a non-profit trying to reach sustainability with market strategies. Consider volunteering or renting out their space after hours (board room is free during the day). Stop by and purchase some really good espresso, knowing you are supporting a really good cause. Street Bean receives a lot of business from workday folks, but is missing Belltown’s residential crowd. If we all show up more often, their hours will expand. It is a small solution to help meet a really big challenge.