Colorado Springs’ largest homeless campus is serving a cup of joe for a cause.
Springs Rescue Mission is leasing a former funeral-home-turned-café to teach job skills to men in its spiritually based addiction recovery program. As a for-profit venture, the new café also will bring in money to help support the organization's homeless services.
“The goal is to help build people’s sense of value — you are worth it, you can be a contributor,” said Tyler Peoples, director of social enterprise for Springs Rescue Mission, Thursday, at the grand opening of Samaritan Coffee at 225.
The café is located at 225 N. Weber St. and is open 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The menu includes specialty coffee drinks featuring Samaritan’s Blend drip coffee, which is roasted in partnership with Building Three Coffee.
Tea, other beverages and breakfast and lunch selections, such as pastries, salads and sandwiches made by another Springs Rescue Mission social enterprise, Mission Catering, also are offered.
The café has seating and free Wi-Fi.
First Presbyterian Church, just down the street, bought the 1940s-era building in 2011, renovated it and still owns the property.
The church is giving Springs Rescue Mission “a very favorable lease” to operate the public café and use it as a training ground for homeless clients, said Jeff Cook, the mission’s vice president of operations and programs.
First Presbyterian has over the years leased the space to other Christian organizations, said Alison Murray, the church’s executive director. New Life Church’s downtown location first opened there, for example, and Passion City Church and The Thrive Network also have been housed in the location.
First Presbyterian Church also ran a coffeehouse, Café 225, until closing it in January.
Feeling worthless is a problem for people who are homeless and addicted to drugs or alcohol, said Jason Horn, who graduated in 2016 from Springs Rescue Mission’s one-year residential addiction recovery program for men.
He now wears the large hat of food and beverage manager for the organization and oversees its soup kitchen, catering company and the new café.
“I never thought I’d make it,” he said. “They gave me hope.”
On the day he decided to end his life by driving off Rampart Range Road, his car wouldn’t start. Horn thought that was providential.
After living under the 26th Street bridge for a while, “making bad choices, doing some drugs and not really doing anything with my life,” he enrolled in the recovery program.
“We focus on adding value to your life, and when you’re homeless, addicted, you come in broken,” he said. “When you take the focus off yourself and put it on others, you see growth and opportunity.”
About 50 people attended the café’s grand opening, including First Presbyterian Church member David Dziezawiec, who rode his bike to the event.
“This is a good way to help folks that need to work and give them a sense of value,” he said while sipping a cup of coffee. “The café is a great place to read and start connecting.”
This is Springs Rescue Mission’s third social enterprise, or for-profit businesses that return profits to operations.
Springs Rescue started a catering service in 2011, which evolved into Mission Catering in 2013. The company caters events citywide.
Culinary training and food preparation had been operating out of First Presbyterian Church until recently, as Springs Rescue opened a new kitchen and dining hall facility on its homeless services campus south of downtown and brought the program in-house.
Three graduates of the organization’s work readiness program now work for Mission Catering, Cook said.
Mission Catering earned $300,000 in the fiscal year that ended recently, he said, adding that the COVID-19 pandemic decreased revenue, which was $425,000 the previous fiscal year.
The $75,000 in profits were used for the organization’s work-training program for clients, Cook said.
Last year, Springs Rescue started a used-car dealership, City Gate Motors, on its campus. Clients fix up donated vehicles and sell them to clients who are moving onto independence.
The business made $40,000 in revenue last year, Cook said, with little profit.
“Sales are very minimal, as City Gate Motors was started for the sole purpose of providing reliable vehicles at a very reasonable price for our program graduates,” he said.