EXCELSIOR SPRINGS, Mo. -- A look inside Opportunity Café, and you’ll immediately feel the warm energy from the employees.
“It's a very happy, joyful place,” said Kitchen Manager Valerie Hoffecker. “It's very seldom you come here and it's like people are just walking around like ‘oh I'm at work,’ but everybody's here because it's their passion.”
The 7-month-old café is not your typical coffee shop. It has a mission to help children who have aged out of foster care find new opportunities and take their next step into the job market.
Coffee manager Kelley Rowe is excited to provide an added layer of support to those future employees who have aged out of the foster care system.
“When I was 15, I lost my mom and didn’t have the normal support system that most kiddos have,” said Rowe. “I was luckily in a spot where other people helped me along the way as time went on.”
Now 23 years-old, she hopes to help future employees who have faced a similar situation to hers.
“I can tell someone, whether they have the same story as me, a more tragic than me -- whatever story they come from, if they're in a place where they don't feel like they have support or love and to know that I get to know that hey you're not alone,” said Rowe.
Right now, the café serves those who are a part of the Excelsior Springs job corps.
The café is part of Meet the Need, a non-profit founded by Kristina Peoples and her group of friends.
“I tell people I could not not do this,” said Peoples. “It was just that strong."
The non-profit does a number of services to assist the working poor in crisis situations.
“We have a food pantry, we have a thrift store that they can get clothing out of, they can get small prescriptions,” said Peoples. “Our main focus is keeping them working so we do car repair, tires, we do steel toe work boots, we have scrubs.”
Whether providing short-term help for people in need or a long-term job opportunity to future employees, helping people is Peoples’ passion.
“A lot of times I will say 'How will you be the answer to someone's prayer today?" And if everybody lived like that, the world would be different,” Peoples said.
More information is available on Meet the Need and Opportunity Cafe on their website.