For many people who have spent time in prison, the most difficult barrier to overcome after release is the reentry into employment. In many instances, employers stop reading an application as soon as they see that someone has a criminal record. One Illinois-based coffee company takes the opposite approach and is unabashedly committed to hiring individuals with a past felony conviction.
I HAVE A BEAN
I Have a Bean is committed to helping individuals with past felony convictions. They provide employees with opportunities for internal advancement, job training and an environment that is encouraging and accepting. The company also works with other organizations and resources in the area so that employees have access to other services recognizing that employment is just one part of a returning citizen's needs.
Pete Leonard, founder of I Have a Bean, has dual passions for helping people and producing a high-quality coffee product. I Have a Bean only roasts coffee beans that are ranked in the top 1 percent in the world. In producing such a delicious and exceptional product, I Have a Bean can both draw in new customers and build its employees' pride and confidence. The company is successful not only because of its social mission, but also because it provides its customers with the highest quality product. The company's unusual employment model has been featured on CBN, ABC, HLN's MichaeLA show, and Christianity Today. Crime Watch Daily even did a segment about them!
The company's support and encouragement of its employees has certainly proved successful. Among the many people who have been employed by I Have a Bean is the current head of Set Free Prison Ministries for the state of Illinois, Louis Dooley. Another employee, James Short, also acts as an example of success for the company. While working for the company, James was hired by a regional power and gas company as a truck mechanic. He has advanced through the ranks and is now supervising all the mechanics in the region.
Pete Leonard recommends that employers take time to seriously consider hiring those with a previous criminal conviction because the rewards for doing so are tremendous.
For those of us who are inspired by this company's mission and just love great coffee, give I Have a Bean a try!