‘Good Coffee, Good Purpose:’ New Wilmington coffee shop helps the homeless

Coffee shop run by Vigilant Hope hopes to change lives

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - A Wilmington ministry group is launching an innovative project to lift up people living in poverty.

A new café called The Roastery will have its soft opening next weekend at its newly renovated shop on S. 16th Street.

Vigilant Hope has provided meals, showers and education to the community’s homeless for years now, but The Roastery is their latest way of lifting people out of a bad situation. The cafe’s purpose is two fold: the money from the drinks will benefit Vigilant Hope’s mission, but the real aim of The Roastery is to employ people struggling with homelessness.

Even while the group has been renovating the building, they’ve used the construction to teach the people they serve job skills.

Leaders say programs like this that give people the tools to succeed are a more sustainable way to tackle homelessness and restore their dignity.

COVID-19 pushed their project back several months, but the nonprofit’s executive director knows profound change doesn’t happen overnight.

“It’s not like this immediate thing where we hire them and they’re like ‘I’m ready,’ you know, there’s a process where they’re battling addictions, they’re battling mental illnesses, so we literally sign up for the long run. This is a marathon, once we decide we’re gonna hire them, we practically come walk alongside of them and teach them life skills, how to budget and then go from there,” said Vigilant Hope Executive Director Jeremy Hardy.

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Their slogan is “good coffee, good purpose.” The organization has been roasting single- origin coffee beans for some time now and selling the bags to benefit their homeless outreach events.

“Wilmington has a large homeless population a large underprivileged population and those are our brothers and sisters and our fellow Wilmingtonians who we should care about and love and we should do everything we can to help them. To ignore them is to ignore other human beings,” said café manager Austen Truhe.

Rather than looking away – the community is invited to do something as simple as grabbing a cup of coffee.

“I’m tired of talking and i’m tired of hearing just talk. The biggest difference we’re gonna make is action,” said urban missionary Greg Graham. “Allowing for us to walk through life with them and let them know there’s hope beyond their current situation.”

Coffee is how they’re tackling the issue, but the executive director says the main thing they want to pour over the community is hope and dignity.

“Its not all about coffee here. Our hope is to end poverty here in Wilmington... I know it’s a huge goal here, but that’s what we set out to do and that’s what its all about,” said Hardy.

In the same way they transform their beans, The Roastery is using warmth and care to coax the people they serve into their full potential.

The café will have a soft opening next weekend. You can drop in the store from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. to support the cause or shop for their products online here.

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