Creating pathways for our youth By Rachel Kelly
When we look at the youth in our community, we’re looking at a part of ourselves—both a snapshot of things that were but also a hope in what could be. Given purpose, safety, mentorship, time and space to just “be,” our youth can have some of what we might have gone without: an opportunity to choose and discover who they are and what they want to be.
The Coffee Oasis is a Christian nonprofit organization that exists to do just that—“to create pathways of opportunity for youth to be restored in heart, mind, soul and body.” To do this, the nonprofit believes in creating programs that allow for community involvement. They provide crisis services, youth engagement, housing services and youth development. What’s more, The Coffee Oasis believes in the importance of the greater community as a key part in their success for youth, creating safe shared spaces for community investment. The Coffee Oasis makes investing in youth as easy as … well, as easy as getting a cup of coffee!
The Coffee Oasis was founded in 1997 by Dave and Cindy Frederick, whose draw to support youth came as a natural outpouring from their lives. Dave was a police chaplain, who in tandem with Cindy, founded Hope in Christ Ministries, which brought the hope of Christ to the pain of the streets. The following year, they opened a shuttered business by the name of The Coffee Oasis, which soon became the place to be for youth in the area, including that of their foster children and their friends. It was those experiences that exposed the Fredericks to youth who were caught in cycles of depression, incarceration, poverty, homelessness and addiction. Youth programs began modestly with “Youth Night” that first Friday of September in 1997. Four youths decided to come over from the “smokers’ corner” (a local hang-out spot) to check out what was going on. Since then, The Coffee Oasis has grown to encompass thousands of youths throughout Kitsap, and now Pierce, counties, while roasting ethically sourced beans for their delicious espresso drinks.
"The Coffee Oasis is excited to be a part of the fabric of this community. Like one square in a beautiful quilt, we are just one part of a lot of good that is happening in Tacoma. For some people The Coffee Oasis will be their neighborhood coffee shop. For thousands of youth, The Coffee Oasis will be a place they find belonging, a shelter from life on the streets, job training, and hope for their future,” says Daniel Frederick, The Coffee Oasis’ executive director.
The Coffee Oasis café locations are a safe third place; it’s the presence of the nonprofit in the day-to-day community. However, that’s not where the care for youth in our community ends. The Coffee Oasis provides 24/7 crisis services, offering a compassionate ear from trained volunteers. All one has to do is text HELP to 360.377.5560 to reach their crisis text services. In addition, there is a walk-in crisis service that offers a less intimidating space for crisis support (although a hospital may be recommended), a mobile crisis response, substance use counseling, and crisis navigation resources.
To reach homeless youth, Coffee Oasis has dedicated youth programs outreach staff on the streets and in schools, making efforts to meet youth where they are. They connect, build relationships, and invite youth to various programs. They don’t just drop in and walk off, they see them later—either at The Coffee Oasis, outside, or in schools. They teach classes in schools, they play sports, and just generally get connected. Included in their crisis services are youth drop-in centers that provide showers, meals, laundry, clothing, field trips and classes.
The Coffee Oasis also provides housing services. This means that there are several shelters, the closest being The Loft in Tacoma. The Loft is a 12-bed licensed DCYF under-age youth shelter that provides a safe and encouraging place to live while working toward sustainable living. Eligible youth are those of the ages of 13 to 17 that for whatever reason do not have a safe place to stay, whether it is because of exploitation, abuse or homelessness. Youth of all genders are welcome to the use of 12 beds, showers, meals, resource referral, case management, medical care, familial reunification, and after-care. Youth are accepted 24/7 on a first come, first served basis by calling 253.328.6127 or by email at email@example.com.
Case management through The Coffee Oasis is not just helping youth 13 through 25 achieve the practical aspects of living independently, such as getting a driver’s license or ID, pursuing education or obtaining legal help. Going through case management is also receiving mentorship. It is gaining friends who will walk alongside to strategize, give advice and encouragement. Case management is also offered to incarcerated youth so that upon exiting they have the support they need to set goals, make plans and exit with a strategy, preventing homelessness or hopeless situations in youth before they begin. “Part of the Youth Development Program (for ages 16-25) offers job preparation classes, internships, job-site mentoring, professional references, resume development, stipends, and on-site barista training. From mentoring to internships to practical needs such as housing, The Coffee Oasis addresses the needs of the whole person. Everyone is welcome here, regardless of race, color, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, identity or disability.
With all these activities, there are so many opportunities to get involved. Give. Be a mentor. Volunteer. Follow. Subscribe. Go to a local Coffee Oasis coffee shop, where 100 percent of proceeds benefit youth. On October 4, Coffee Oasis is holding its Coffee and Corks, an Evening of Hope Gala. It will be held at historic 1625 Tacoma Place. For tickets and sponsorship opportunities, visit TheCoffeeOasis.com/events and click on the event. See you then!
To find out more about The Coffee Oasis and how you can help, visit TheCoffeeOasis.com .