We are all guilty of it; visiting one of the large corporate coffee chains scattered all across Kern County, all the while regrettably realizing we could have just as easily tried to find a local establishment to get our caffeine fix.
On this latest edition of 'Made in Kern County' I visited Covenant Coffee. A division of Covenant Community Services, an organization that has been serving former foster youth in Kern County since 1995.
In 2010 Kim and Randy Martin decided to add 'coffee' to the host of services they offer former foster youth, a realization that many teens were leaving the system without critical skills that would allow them to thrive in the workplace...Covenant Coffee was born.
Covenant Coffee imports hundreds of pounds of coffee each year from more than 20 different coffee growing regions all around the world, including Mexico, Africa and South America. Martin says their commitment to roasting quality coffee, and serving foster youth has allowed the brand of Covenant Coffee to grown within the community. "I think the brand just gives hope, it really does speak to anybody in any situation something that just lost a loved one, or has cancer or is going through a difficultly they can come here and enjoy a product and know that’s it’s being made by hands that have gone through something," Martin said.
Hands like Belinda Amavisca who has been employed at Covenant since they opened their doors. After leaving the foster care system she has been able to mentor other youth like her. "a lot of them don’t know about the opportunities they have, and the job experience that they need," she said. It’s really great that they have a program like this they can fall back on and teach them these skills.
And that commitment to exposing former foster youth all the opportunities that are available to them, is evident in the life of Ashley McKay. She just finished her bachelors degree at Cal-State Bakersfield, and is planning to begin her master's degree soon. AMAZING! Considering less than 10-percent of youth exiting the system will go to college. "The youth that I get to see here everyday and apply what I’ve been through is important," McKay said.
It's a dream to see former foster youth reach their full potential that is coming to life--in every life that is enriched with the opportunity to be part of something bigger than themselves. A vision that Randy Martin, and others involved in Covenant Coffee says its the reason we should all be mindful of where we spend our money...and to know who it is supporting.
Hope in a cup, and lives that are put on a successful path, made right here...in Kern County.