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Smart Woman: Old Skool Café

Teens with a criminal record often find it difficult to land a good job. But one woman has made it her mission to change that; a unique restaurant is helping troubled teens become responsible adults.

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – Teens with a criminal record often find it difficult to land a good job. But one woman has made it her mission to change that; a unique restaurant is helping troubled teens become responsible adults.

They could have ended up in prison, but instead – a group of young people are working at the Old Skool Café, a 1940s style restaurant that gives troubled kids a second chance.

“A lot of them are coming from generational brokenness: so Dad was in prison, and Grandpa was in prison, and Mom’s on drugs,” Teresa Goines, CEO and Founder of the café, told Ivanhoe.

A former juvenile corrections officer, Goines came up with the idea after asking teens what they needed most to turn their lives around. “What I heard from them was jobs and a sense of family,” she said.

The program provides training, jobs and support for 40 kids a year. Seventy-five percent of employees have been incarcerated or in trouble with the law, and workers make minimum wage plus tips.

“We try to create a culture that you are part of something. You are wanted. You’re loved the second you walk through the door,” Goines said.

That’s how Jordan Ramsey felt. He spent his childhood in the foster care system and his teen years selling drugs. Now though, he’s head chef.

“There is a better life for me. I can be successful,” Ramsey told Ivanhoe.

Daniel Bermudez went from being in a gang to having dreams of owning his own business. “She showed me self-worth. She showed me love and compassion,” he told Ivanhoe.

Tammy Vaitai started at Old Skool six years ago. Now she trains newbies. “It’s given me a job, and it’s given me an opportunity to do what I really love to do,” She told Ivanhoe.

“All it takes is one person saying, I will break this cycle,” Goines said.

The Old Skool Café is located in one of the toughest neighborhoods in San Francisco. The program’s youth leaders do all the hiring and firing. Customers keep the café in business, but they also receive financial help from volunteers, donors, and foundation grants.

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