I had the opportunity to take two of our former foster youth to Los Angeles this week, where they would be training to become coffee service technicians for a professional espresso company called Rosito Bisani. Our goal is help the youth find employment, all the while building upon our continued mission to grow Covenant Coffee. (More on that in a moment)
We left Bakersfield under the cover of darkness, driving as early as early could get for most folks. It was 5 A.M Tuesday. As we approached the beginning of the Grapevine, I turned to Luis, one of our former foster youth who was in the front seat, and expressed my disdain for the Grapevine…I was expecting to receive confirmation about the long, bumpy inclined drive that lay ahead.
But Luis, and Jeremy (who was sitting in the backseat) both had unusual expressions on their faces, not only did they not know anything about the Grapevine, they had never traveled on it. That’s because the pair has never left Kern County…. (At least a time that they could remember, or be proud to recall)
As someone who has traveled the world and who is a frequent..”needs to get out-of-town kind-of guy..” this was especially shocking.
They had been invited to an out-of-town affair, or escaped the summer heat of Bakersfield for relief at the coast…they had never planned a vacation, or taken part in one. For them, life as they knew it revolved around Kern County, Bakersfield and their commitments here at home.
It was both an exciting and dawning moment for me, knowing their first “real” experience out-of-town hinged on my shoulders (and Mark…another Covenant employee who made the trip). But it also reminded me the reason I was brought to Covenant, to bring hope to foster youth.
A few hours later we pulled into West Hollywood, and the Rosito Bisani coffee headquarters…where you could have cut the anticipation and excitement with a knife.
After each day of rigorous technical espresso machine training, we took time out of day to show the kids a “good time” in Los Angeles. Mark and I drove them everywhere.
First walking the star-studded steps of Hollywood, where they got to take in all the glitz and glamor, then strolling the sand in Manhattan Beach, where we took in a sunset.
For Luis, it was his first sunset at the beach, a moment I wouldn’t forget. Imagine living in California your entire life…and never experiencing the quiet solace of a sunset at the beach.
The last day we took them to Griffith Park where we had a bird’s eye view of all the destinations we had traveled to. I sat among the highest point in LA…and spoke privately to Luis.
I asked him about his dreams, about his family and his hopes for a future. He told me about how he wants to find a career in the coffee industry, (and Covenant Coffee) how he wants to make more than minimum wage in order to support his three kids and wife. He expressed his desire to go back to school…to get an education and better himself.
He told me how excited he was to receive professional training from one of the most prestigious espresso companies in the world.
It was a powerful moment, and insight into the struggle and war waged by foster youth everyday.
It was the perfect end to a trip and a moment where I was reminded that hope lives and thrives among the little moments in life, the hidden coves of expression and excitement that may seem usual to some, but for others…it sparks imagination and quite literally the dawning of a new life.
This past week I learned something, and hopefully you have by reading this…maybe it’s time to slow down and find hope…in the “Little Things”