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West End Blend coffee shop gets ready to open next month

Coffee shop support nonprofits helping women transition from prison to work

ROANOKE, Va.- – Your next cup of coffee could help brew up support for women seeking a second chance with Transitional Options for Women. The nonprofit provides transitional housing and life skill training for women released from prisons or jails.

Founder Dorothy Owsley and help from the community is turning an old building located in the West End neighborhood into a coffee shop called West End Blend. Women from the Transitional Options will work as employees in the shop.

Owsley hopes the new business will help lower the number of women returning to prison once they're released. 

"People deserve a second chance. And now you have a beautiful place to go. The women that will be working here will be getting skills and we'll be able to get some funding to go back into the organization so that we can be sustainable," Owsley said. 

Jessica Young lives at one of the transitional houses. She'll be one of the managers when the shop opens next month. 
     
She says that position is a step in the right direction after spending time in prison. 

"It's makes me feel like I have a big part in society. It makes me feel like somebody actually does give me another chance."

The idea of the shop started two years ago, but lack of funding prevented it from opening sooner. 

"It's been a long haul. But just the idea of it actually opening up and people are going to be sitting here and women are going to be serving coffee, it's overwhelming," Owsley said. 

Some women from transitional housing will also work with House of Bread to restore their confidence and build relationships.

The fresh baked bread will be sold in the coffee shop, which is opening at the end of February.