Coffee shop aims to help former inmates through jobs, art

Coffee shop aims to help former inmates through jobs, art

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The walls at Fringe Coffee House are filled with street art and photos of people in prison.

Fringe Coffee House sits on High Street, one of the main streets in Hamilton, and the owners say they want to make the community safer.

The owners, Patrick and Sarah Davis, believe that by giving felons a job they will have purpose and reason to not be repeat offenders.

“We believe that these peoples lives are worth saving and we believe that this place is not only going to be a great business, but it’s going to make this community safer,” said Patrick.

Both Patrick and Sarah are taking prison reform into their own hands because both have experienced it themselves having served time for crimes of their own.

“Anybody can change. Anybody can turn their lives around. We are examples of that,” said Patrick.

Since getting back on their own feet, the Davis's have been working in the prison system for 15 years connecting inmates with creative outlets like music and art.

Their goal has always been to help reintegrate inmates coming out of the system back into society.

"One of the constant problems that we kept coming up with over and over again is that when they get out no one wants to hire them and give them a chance," said Patrick.

So the couple decided to take their program to the next level by opening Fringe Coffee House. They plan to employ six people who are coming out of prison.

“This place is not just a job its a re-entry program. So for nine months we’re going pay you a fair wage. We’re going to have a custom design reentry plan for each person that comes through here,” said Patrick.

From guitar lessons to parenting and GED courses - the Fringe is hoping to unite the people on the fringe of society and empower them to do better.

“Part of the rehabilitation process is not keeping people at a distance but inviting them into the family,” said Patrick.

Both say no one should be scared to come in and grab a cup of coffee from Fringe, instead they want you to integrate and be a part of the solution.

“You are more than the worst thing that you’ve ever done and it’s an illusion that this guy is safer than this guy because hes never been to prison,” said Patrick.

Patrick is also a victim of crime. While he was serving time in prison, his 20-year-old brother was murdered.

“This is not a free pass. We are not overlooking crime. My brother was never in trouble. He was a true victim and music and art is what got me through,” he said.

The coffee shop will also have a studio upstairs where at-risk youth and employees can partake in things like guitar lessons or creative writing. The owners also plan to hold poetry slams and trivia nights.

"When you surround people with love, when you surround people with affirmation, when you believe in somebody who has never had someone believe in them its amazing the transformation you can see," said Patrick.

The Fringe is looking to raise $20,000 through an online fundraiser. If you’re interested in donating money or your time - click here.

Copyright 2019 WXIX. All rights reserved.