Editor’s Note: This article is the fourth in a series written by the members of Omega Espresso Bar’s Board of Directors. Each one will be answering questions or sharing why he or she is committed to playing a vital role in Omega’s story as it unfolds.
There is a such a need for the opportunity that Omega Espresso Bar brings. Over the past five years I’ve seen this need first-hand, serving as a volunteer chaplain to the women of a local county jail. For them, sustainable employment is next to impossible on the other side of whatever tragic circumstances they’re coming from.
Women in this difficult situation meet with me on a weekly basis. So often the stories are hopelessly similar. Drugs, alcohol, or abuse each play a cruel part, introducing them to “the system.” Once these women do their time and are released, their options are painfully limited.
Realistically, what can each one do to pick up the pieces of the life she has now? Some have even lost the desire to continue living at all.
A Downward Spiral
To make matters worse, the rehabilation and restitution facilities they can go to are situated in less-than-ideal neighborhoods. The people standing idly on those bleak corners are often the same ones who “helped” these women wreck their lives in the first place. Instead of being situated in healthy neighborhoods where these women might be able to start over fresh, they’re stuck amongst harsh realities and broken spokes in the wheel of “the system.”
Many of them end up right back out on the streets after their release. Homelessness becomes their new prison. Opportunity for true change is nowhere to be found. Many have been forced to sell their bodies, attempting to feed an addictive habit. Abuse and misuse pour their poison into a vicious and often unending cycle.
Recidivism occurs: in and out of one bad circumstance they go, stumbling into another one just as bad, if not worse. Shame and guilt and disease and failure and hopelessness and crime and anger and resentment and… and…
And then it starts all over again.
I have been at the jail long enough now to recognize those who are in and out, over and over again. Some share that they would like to have a different option, but nothing has changed for them.
These women have never yet known what it’s like to have a real job. They haven’t experienced teamwork, developed honest working skills, or been rewarded for achieving agreed-upon goals.
Watching the transformation take place in Janna Kainos through her life story has been so encouraging. The Lord continues to sculpt her into an amazing woman. She believes in the abilities and rights that others have to succeed also. I believe that Omega Espresso Bar–through her management and business experience–will give these women the opportunity they seek to become a part of something bigger than themselves.
Omega Espresso Bar is not going to be just another coffee shop. Through the possibilities and leadership of the God Who sees and cares for each person, we can each play a vital role together in this story of transformation. OEB will serve as a step in the working world for these women as they recover from absolute brokenness. We can help bring them a sense of accomplishment and an honest reputation–something many of them have never thought possible.
I have asked the girls I talk with if they would be interested in such a place. Their reaction has always been very positive. Many have wanted to know where it is and when it will be open. I look forward to the day when I can reveal that answer and guide them to a place where they can start fresh in a new direction.
By His Power
Personally, I believe this need is way bigger than anything we can imagine, but hey: we serve the God of impossibilities made possible! All we can do is all we can do. And yet, all we can do is—by His power—enough. May we all be followers of His direction for our lives and reach out to those whom He calls us to serve.
So, my role on the board of Omega Espresso Bar is often expressed in silence. I offer my support from near and far, and through much prayer. I am deeply interested in these girls and their well-being, their possibilities, and in the hope of a place where they can someday experience true life change, for good.
And that’s why I’m glad to have a part in the Omega Espresso Bar story.