Man Opens Cafe Chain In Push To Employ Foster Kids Who Age Out Of The System

When we asked uncomfortable questions growing up about kids who didn't have parents or were in other desperate situations, we were often reassured that there were systems in place such as foster care programs and child protective services to ensure they didn't face their problems alone.

But while we recognize that there are some beautiful stories that can come out of systems like these, the unfortunate reality is that there just as many stories of kids slipping through their cracks.

And when it comes to foster care, this is a particular problem for teens who get too old to be eligible for the program anymore. Because when they haven't been adopted, they're essentially left on their own.

This reality has no easy solutions and often goes without much discussion, but one cafe founder wants to change that as much as he can.

Before he came up with the idea for his flagship cafe, Francois Reihani was known to volunteer in his local foster care community.

But as he told Good Morning America, the more meetings he attended, the more disturbing stories he heard about what happens to people who age out of the system.

As he said, "I became very passionate about trying to be a part of the solution."

At first, this took the form of a nonprofit called the We Are One Project, which was intended to help former foster kids access therapy, mentorship programs, housing, jobs, and higher education.

Unfortunately, he soon came to realize that this idea wasn't working as well as he had hoped and a major reason why was that most of the people he worked with weren't able to find or keep jobs. This was partially due to a lack of work experience.

So since he has a background in the restaurant industry, he decided to provide some opportunities himself with a coffee shop in Texas called La La Land Kind Cafe.

Eventually, this cafe became successful enough that he was able to provide more jobs for foster alumni and expand the cafe's kindness-focused mission to other cities.

And while Reihani said that the communities around the cafe's first three locations have been deeply supportive, the response to the opening of the fourth shop in Santa Monica, California has been overwhelming.

In his words, "The first day, the line was out the door for the most part of the day [and] the next day. It's been an insane reaction, seeing how...people appreciate what we do, and we're very thankful for that."

However, while these cafes have done some significant good on their own, Reihani is hoping that their true value lies in encouraging other companies to open up opportunities for those who aged out of foster care systems.

As he put it, "Even if we open 1,000 cafes, we're not going to solve the entire problem. Not every youth wants to work in a cafe for the rest of their life, so it was very important for us to be able to create a model to where we could share that with other companies so they can also be a part of the solution."

h/t: Good Morning America

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