John (1)“What drives me is seeing lives change. Just the other day I had someone knock on my truck window while parked at the grocery store and thank me for helping him out. That happens more than you would think.”

John oversees the Urbean Cafe in METRO RTA’s Robert K. Pfaff Transit Center. The Cafe is a workforce development program under Broken Chains Ministry that provides hands-on, real-world work experience, and life skills for those transitioning from a life of incarceration and addiction back into society.

John (2)
John is pictured with Urbean Cafe employees Chelsey and James.

“Urbean Cafe exists as a front for those returning citizens from jail or rehab. I have 10 employees — six full-time and four part-time — who all come from diverse backgrounds. We turn product and lives are being changed with a purpose to help people who are coming home from prison, jail, and/or rehab. Nonprofits are the backbone for reentry.

“I started off my career selling life insurance and I soon realized I wasn’t serving the people in the best way I could. So in 1981, I gave my heart to Christ. Every Friday I volunteered to lead four chapel services a day for those in jail and prison. I started developing care and concern for those who wanted to get their life back on track.

“In 1988, I started full-time with the Sheriff’s Office in Social Services and took care of inmate needs. I would preach the gospel and explain why they are where they are based off the gospel studies. In 1995, I left the jail and started Broken Chains Ministry. I had the desire to be more of value to the people and focus on workforce development. Seven years ago, we got the opportunity to open the Cafe.”

The Urbean Cafe supports local vendors and serves nearly 600 people each day. Travelers can choose from a diverse menu including our own locally roasted Urbean Cafe coffee.

“This place means everything to me.”