For the EVOLution of Business

Brewing A Recipe for Healing from Addiction at the Coffee Connection

Episode Summary

To be an employee at the Coffee Connection, there is a "three strikes" policy: having a history of substance abuse, being a woman and being convicted of a felony. Except those three strikes won't exclude you, but are actually what make you eligible to be hired! How does the Coffee Connection put together a "recipe for healing" for new employees? "First we listen to their story," says Joy Bergfalk, "I'm big on accountability, but if you don't understand someone's behavior, you don't know enough of their story." Tune in to this episode of the podcast to hear more from Joy on how the Coffee Connection is brewing up recipes for recovery and healing "one cup, one woman, one day at a time." Joy comes from a family that questions the way things are traditionally done and works to find a more creative way to address needs in our society. She started collecting traumatized animals at age 5, and began her study of racism and trauma in third grade and has not looked back. Through study and experience, Joy has worked to create a recipe for healing from addiction, trauma, and incarceration. While most programs are short-term, the Coffee Connection/Project Empower offers a long-term program for women from this population. She is a tireless advocate for finding a paradigm that works and draws out women to live in their fullest potential to their benefit, the benefit of their families and society in general.

Episode Notes

[1:00] Founding of the Coffee Connection by Nancy Sawyer-Molina

(Nancy is now working with DAVIDA (a Peruvian national agency) and the regional government of Cuzco to develop a drug and alcohol prevention plan for at-risk kids (ages 10-18) in the Cuzco area.)

[2:00] Joy assuming leadership of the Coffee Connection

[6:30] Hiring on "Three Strikes" policy ... different strikes than you may think!
"Probably 95% of people with addiction have a history of trauma. They're learning how to resolve conflicts with each other, in their homes and with other people using principles that start with self-calming and not coming from a traumatized position."

[9:20] $69,000 to keep someone in prison, plus the lost opportunities of their gifts and contribution to society
"How many more people would be in jail if everyone that ever drove drunk had been arrested...they're just the ones that got caught."

[10:45] Getting started with a new employee
"First we listen to their story. Everyone's healing recipe is different...many times people have told me 'this is the first time I've felt safe enough to tell my story.'"

"Addiction is not a straight uphill line of progress...A use or a relapse doesn't have to be the end of the story."

[15:00] Ground rules for employment - Commitment to sobriety, commitment to the mission, good work practices (honesty, reliability, resolving conflicts)
"I'm big on accountability, but if you don't understand someone's behavior, you don't know enough of their story"

[18:30] Joy's study of trauma and healing
"There's no difference between us...I have no moral superiority."

"I guess I never got out of that 2 year old stage of asking why."

Studying slavery and finding some research that perpetrators have more PTSD than victims

[23:00] Supports and tools necessary to help keep employment

[27:30] The celebrations and challenges of those that "graduate" from Coffee Connection

[30:00] Joy's message to employers reluctant to give a chance to those with histories of addiction - "The whole process starts by recognizing the goodness of people"

Learn more about Father Greg Boyle at Homeboy Industries here:

[35:00] Raising 60% of program needs from revenue through the coffee shop, catering and wholesale businesses

[39:00] Challenges to fundraising with a nontraditional model that doesn't fit many grants

[45:00] Policy challenges for welfare benefits and health insurance

[48:00] How you can help: volunteer your expertise, host a fundraiser, sell coffee for your own fundraiser, have your next coffee meeting at the Coffee Connection or hire them for catering!

Hear more about the Coffee Connection story here:

or stop in for a cup of coffee at 681 South Ave or 2271 E. Main St!