Old Skool

The students of the Old Skool Cafe, from the Old Skool Cafe Website.

The students of the Old Skool Cafe, from the Old Skool Cafe Website.

One of the biggest challenges to prison recidivism rates is the very fact that former inmates get out and have nowhere to go but back into the same situation that got them arrested in the first place.  It is hard to start over or start fresh when faced with the same old thing.  This is a problem for youth in our society, as well as the adults.

One person trying to change that is Teresa Goines.    Teresa, who used to be a youth correctional counselor, decided that something different needed to be done.  She believed there needed to be an alternative for youth coming out of jail and, also, those youth who were at risk in their community.  These adolescents needed a place that could provide them with job skills, self confidence, responsibility, and a way to earn a living legitimately, and Ms. Goines came up with the idea of the Old Skool Café located in San Francisco, California.   Cashing in her retirement fund and enlisting patrons from friends and colleagues she moved forward with the idea in 2005.  At first the café did not have a permanent location, instead it was sometimes run out of Goines’ home or in other restaurants around the area.  However, in April of 2012 she found a location in which she could set up permanently.  It was in the Bayview neighborhood in a former church.  Renovations were costly, but donations came in, as did some small grants, and the Old Skool now had a place to call home; a place where the students, past and present, could develop skills and learn responsibility.

A six week training program was created to hone those skills.  In addition, other youth not in the program could audition to provide nightly entertainment for which they were paid.  This program continues to provide 16 to 22 year olds with an opportunity to change their lives for the better.  Not only does the program provide skills, but it also gives on-the-job work experience which then translates into job history.  We all know that having skills is fine but having experience to back up those skills is vital for securing employment outside the program.

Luckily, this program is getting all sorts of media coverage in addition to this blog.  From CNN and The San Francisco Chronicle to Steve Harvey, Teresa and her students are making headlines.  Old Skool also received a Community Leadership Award from the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2009.  This annual award recognizes organizations that are taking measures to help in the prevention of drug, gangs, and violence.

If you happen to be in the San Francisco area, go check them out.  You can purchase gift cards and make reservations on their website.  Having a good meal and supporting a good cause all at the same time will surely make your heart feel happier.

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