When Tonya Guinn was walking with friends along the Rainier Trail in 2013, she was stunned by what she saw along the way: words like “worthless” and “society’s trash” had been scrawled on trees and benches. Many people in the region were homeless, struggling with drug addiction and facing other challenges under a dark cloud of discouragement and despair. Still reeling from the death of his brother who had been tragically killed by a drunk driver struggling with an opioid addiction, Guinn knew firsthand the devastation drug addiction can cause, especially for young people; her brother and the driver were both 20 years old. She decided soon after that she wanted to help.
Guinn began helping those in need on and near the Line, doing things like clothing drives, partnering with community members, schools and organizations, and serving coffee and tea. donuts from the car. From there, she plans to open a shop and decides to learn the art of brewing and the ins and outs of the coffee industry. After winning a grant from the local youth-focused organization Best Starts for Kids and then an award from “Returning the Favor,” a show in which TV host Mike Rowe travels the United States in search of people who are making a difference in their communities, Guinn was able to renovate and open what is now the cozy and welcoming cafe in downtown North Bend. And the rest is history: Trail Youth Coffee Home is celebrating its third anniversary this month.
Guinn’s mission, first born along this trail, is to “remove labels and renew value for all who come to us.” We want everyone to live their life to the fullest and know their potential. The haven of peace offered by Trail Youth, as well as its influence through its mobile coffee trailer, are undoubtedly more necessary than ever. Guinn has noticed an increase in risky behaviors and overdoses due in part to the isolation and depression brought on by the pandemic, as well as a lack of access to other trusted adults due to the fact that the school is not in session. It’s way more than your average coffee. In addition to the refreshments themselves (teens get free drinks and over 10,000 have already been served), on each mug, one of the many positive affirmations is written, paired with the logo designed by the teens in their program. marketing training. Trail Youth also offers barista training and coffee roasting skills, including learning the establishment’s personalized blend, mentoring, internships and a career fair. As well as helping teens develop professionally, they also grow interpersonal: âThe barista program made me more social,â says 19-year-old Ben Rogers. There are also activities like open mic nights, talent shows, and free classes (like art), always with materials included. Trail Youth even features a podcast hosted by teens from North Bend called âCoffee Break with Trail Youthâ that explored a wide range of topics such as self-driving cars, parallel universes, adoption, vulnerability and suicide.
Many young people have passed through these doors and Guinn has fond memories of them. She tells the story of a skeptical teenager who came just for the free drinks and didn’t even want to make eye contact. He later signed up for the training program and came out of his shell completely after spending more and more time in it. Another teenager kept all the positive affirmations from his cups for an entire year; he said he had never heard these things in his life before. And Guinn remembers another young woman who after graduation won a prestigious artistic award and appeared in The New York Times. Trail Youth had nurtured her art and helped her sell some of her pieces in the store. One of his old works is still hanging in the cafÃ©.
Indeed, the teens are also focused on the layout and decoration of the shop itself: there is a relaxation area with video games, the walls feature many teen artists, and there is always the photo and the name of the barista of the month on the front. . The boardroom table was built by teenagers who were even able to earn geometry course credits. Products designed by teenagers are displayed on store shelves. It is evident that young people, so often ignored or sidelined, are an integral part of this place and a powerful force within its functioning.
Brennon Lee, 17, podcast host, volunteer and intern, explains why Trail Youth is so crucial for teens: âTeens face tons of pressure and negativity every day. Whether from their friends, social media or adults, cracks form in teenagers’ self-confidence and a need for escape grows. This causes some teens to turn to medication to numb the pain and avoid the reality they are facing. Last year, three of my classmates overdosed on illegal drugs and died. This community at Trail Youth has shown me the power that words – positive and negative – can have. They broadened my view of the world and made me realize that as a society we need to be more uplifting and fair. We need to support each other, reach out to those in need, and inspire those around us to collectively make the world a safer, more positive place for teens. Supporting teens, reaching out to those in need, and inspiring others to do the same can collectively make the world a safer, more positive place for teens, so that no young person loses their life because of the drugs or suicide.
Jaclyn Huntzinger, 18, high school student and other podcast host, describes coffee as a life changing. âThe Trail helped me find my goal. Everything they have done for me and for other teens in my community has inspired me to do the same. I really changed my perspective and changed little things throughout my day to remind others that they are valued. I can’t imagine who I would be if I had. I did not enter this coffee house.
Trail Youth Coffee Home is located at 226 E North Bend Way, in North Bend, WA. You can find more information online.