It is always exciting for me to hear stories of restoration that come out of our newer campuses and projects. One such campus is Restoration Roasters, our coffee shop in Corona that works in conjunction with the Corona Norco Rescue Mission. Over the past year two years, I have seen the value of hands on learning, as formerly homeless individuals are given the unique opportunity to learn vocational skills in the field of craft coffee. One such story is that of Andres, who is a resident of the Corona Norco Rescue Mission and a barista at Restoration Roasters.
Since the age of 17, Andres has essentially been homeless. Sometimes he slept at friends’ houses, and other times he had to choose between eating and having a roof over his head. He hit bottom when the police were patrolling the streets and found him sleeping in his car.  The police took him in and questioned him, and eventually they drove him to the Rescue Mission.
Andres has been working since he was 13. He most often worked in labor intensive jobs, so he was used to working with his hands.  But his job assignment at the Rescue Mission placed him in an entirely new field, working as a barista. “Restoration Roasters is teaching me how to use my hands to create art.”  Andres says. “I enjoy learning about how to choose the beans, make the brew and even decorate the perfect cup of coffee. I never knew my hands could work so delicately.”
The hands-on job, of course, is about much more than coffee. Restoration Roasters teaches its Rescue Mission volunteer employees the workplace skills they will need for their future employment in any industry. Gabe, the Manager of Restoration Roasters, creates a unique learning environment, where volunteer employees are learning skills in a “real world” business. Andres has thrived with Gabe’s teaching.
For Andres, securing a stable job is important to his goals and plans for the future.  He plans to save money to be able to attend college for a degree in kinesiology or sports management. Without having to worry about having a roof over his head or food to eat, he is able to focus on developing the skills he needs, and eagerly look toward what lies ahead.  Andres just completed the employment workshop at the Rescue Mission.  Soon he will be employed, and be able to put into practice all of the skills he has learned through his work at Restoration Roasters.
Ultimately, Andres is leaving as a changed man, now full of hope for his life and his future. “With all of these experiences, I’m especially thankful that I was baptized and had my soul replenished in Christ,”  Andres says. “I was mentally and physically broken and exhausted. My faith now is helping me recover from brokenness.”
I invite you to stop in to Restoration Roasters in Corona, and see for yourself the life transformation that is happening there.  It is more than a great cup of coffee, it is restoration in action.

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