Now in its 25th year of sheltering and caring for homeless youth, The Coffee Oasis has launched a new venture in Tacoma. This October, The Coffee Oasis café and youth drop-in center will open at 1424 Tacoma Ave. S.
The Coffee Oasis was founded in Bremerton in 1997 as a faith-based non-profit to serve homeless and at-risk youth and young adults through programs and a coffee business. The organization first came to Tacoma in 2019 to establish Serra House, the city’s first underage low barrier youth shelter. Since then, the shelter moved and was renamed The Loft for its place on the top floor of the same building soon to house the café at ground level on one side and the youth center on the other side. This will create a one-stop resource for youth and young adults ages 13-25 to connect with case managers, engage in programs, and learn job skills working in the café that generates profits to support everything The Coffee Oasis does.
“It’s hard to find the right spot for a shelter. No one wants a shelter in their back yard, and especially for our unique fit which is trying to blend a non-profit and a business,” said executive director Daniel Frederick. “We really found it in the building we’re in.”
Frederick also hopes to purchase this building and a separate four-story building behind it for transitional housing.
According to its mission statement, The Coffee Oasis youth programs exist to create pathways of opportunity for youth and young adults to be restored in heart, soul, mind, and body. The Coffee Oasis offers all resources, services, activities, and programs without regard to religious beliefs, race, color, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, identity, or disability.
The Crisis Intervention program is led by staff and volunteers that operate numerous resources. A 24-hour text line is there for any youth in crisis or just needing to talk to someone who cares. Walk-In Crisis Services offer a friendly setting for youth who need to see someone in person, and the Mobile Crisis Response goes to where a crisis is occurring. Free substance use counseling is offered to anyone 13-25 years old who is at-risk of experiencing homelessness.
Drop-in centers at The Coffee Oasis locations in Bremerton and Kingston, and soon in Tacoma, invite youth and young adults in for free food, fun activities, life-skills classes, and belonging to a safe community. They can also do their laundry, take a shower, get some fresh clothes and even participate in field trips.
For youth that need shelter, The Coffee Oasis shelters provide emergency, short-term housing with case managers to help youth set goals and connect with other services to work toward stability. Nelson House in Poulsbo is for women 18-25 seeking a safe environment to live while they gain employment, education, and life skills for successful independent futures. The Coffee Oasis also partners with host families that open their homes to youth working toward independence through case management.
The Coffee Oasis Youth Development Program offers case management, mentoring, education and job training including to youth in jail or just out of incarceration. The Youth Development Program can be found at all Coffee Oasis locations: Bremerton, Kingston, Port Orchard, Poulsbo and in Tacoma as of this October.
“A program we are so proud of here in Kitsap that we want to see also grow into Pierce County is our crisis services – the 24-hour crisis text line and crisis navigators who go out and meet youth where they are,” Frederick said. “That’s one of the beauties of the way Coffee Oasis has grown over the years. It isn’t just a shelter or drop-in center or outreach; they really work together to meet kids where they’re at.”
The Coffee Oasis shelters are not places to crash where the youth can just come and go. There is a point and purpose for being there. Sometimes they just need to rest and be safe then get to the point where they can put on the work apron and get some experience behind the counter at the coffee café.
Brassfield’s Salon and Spa is among local businesses donating to The Loft.
“It’s uniquely geared to help youth and young adults toward moving from crisis and emergency homelessness to, hopefully, reconciliation with their families or permanent housing,” as Frederick stated.
On Oct. 5, the annual Coffee & Corks gala auction will offer a fun and meaningful opportunity for the broader community to support The Coffee Oasis. A hybrid event, guests can attend online or on-site at Historic 1625 Tacoma Place, 1625 South Tacoma Way. It will feature a cocktail hour with appetizers, including a signature cocktail from Heritage Distillery, stories from the youth themselves, a silent auction, a “raise the paddle” fundraiser, dinner courtesy of Mama Stortini’s (on-site), a live auction (on-site) and a dessert dash (on-site).
Nellie Bell is a staunch supporter of The Coffee Oasis and has volunteered to procure items for the auctions. She says that nothing is too small to donate, as items like gift cards or movie tickets can be added to big gift baskets filled with all kinds of items. She is donating an outrigger canoe experience through the Kikaha o Ke Kai Canoe Club in Tacoma. An active canoe paddler and club member for years – and being originally from Hawaii – Bell has arranged for 10 people to jump in an outrigger canoe for an adventure on the Foss Waterway.
“It’s a pretty unique experience for a family or bunch of friends,” Bell said.
She’s also bringing “extreme” cakes for the dessert dash and working on an auction prize from businesses and organizations in the Proctor District. Anyone with something to donate to the auction can call Bell at (360) 649-5629 and she will gladly pick it up.
Elizabeth Hoey is The Coffee Oasis Pierce County Development Manager, and she is available as well to pick up items and answer any questions about Coffee & Corks. She can be reached at (253) 353-2045.
A realtor with Morrison House Sotheby’s International Realty, Bell said that supporting The Coffee Oasis fits her personally and professionally.
“Being with Sotheby’s, we really strive to be connected with supporting housing,” she said. “I’m a huge proponent (of The Coffee Oasis) because I’ve heard the success stories. It’s life-changing for generations. It’s a cycle you have to break and that’s what they do.”
Learn more about The Coffee Oasis at thecoffeeoasis.com.
Story by Matt Nagle: [email protected]