Set on North Bend’s main street, the Trail Youth Coffee House seems like any other coffee shop, albeit one with an interesting name. Sit inside long enough, though, and the sights and sounds reveal that much more is happening. From behind the counter, Trail Youth Program Director Tonya Guinn subtly recruits young customers into their barista training program. The coffee she serves comes stamped with an affirming message like, “You are worthy,” or, “You are loved.”
From the back comes the sound of instruments tuning as a group of young people get ready for free weekly music lessons. The front door swings open as young people stop in to say hi, get a free cup of coffee, and check in with staff and volunteers. It’s clear that the Trail Youth Coffee House serves much more than coffee.
The Trail Youth built the coffee house in partnership with Best Starts for Kids to create a safe place for young people in the North Bend area to spend time, be themselves, and connect with supportive adults in the community. You can learn more about the history of Trail Youth in the video below, including their reaction when staff learned that they were awarded Best Starts for Kids funding! Thanks to a surprise feature on the show “Returning the Favor” and community participation, the space was remodeled in just two weeks, rather than the expected months.
On Tuesday, Mayor Ken Hearing of North Bend, Mayor Matt Larson of Snoqualmie, Sheila Capestany Strategic Advisor for Children and Youth for King County and North Bend community members gathered to officially open the coffee house.
The celebration included a tour of the coffee house, and a screening of the show at the North Bend Theater, which you can view by clicking HERE:
“This is just what young people in North Bend needed: a safe, healthy place. When you come here, you can expect to be treated well. Oh, and it’s fun,”–Brandon, a former Two Rivers High School student.
“Of course I’m gonna come here. This is a safe place to go, with people we know and trust,”–Kaelen, a former Two Rivers High School student.
Both of the above students connected with the Trail Youth when the organization began reaching out to young people through a pop-up coffee stand on the Snoqualmie Valley Trail, which runs behind Two Rivers High School.
Now in a permanent space, the Trail Youth can host a number of programs for young people at the coffee shop, including a barista training program and a mentoring program that build connections between young people and their communities.
The Trail Youth is one of 32 partners in the Best Starts for Kids Youth Development strategy, which supports leadership opportunities, mentoring, and other services that help young people throughout King County achieve their full potential.
As Sheila mentioned in her remarks at the opening, The Trail Youth Coffee Home is a great example of how Best Starts lives out its mission of supporting innovative community driven ideas as well as being a catalyst for community engagement. The out pouring of support from all corners of the community in many different ways – from finishing the construction punch list to donating coffee syrups has been nothing short of inspirational.
With school out for the summer, the Trail Youth Coffee House is sure to be busy. From opening until 2:30 pm, anyone can stop by for coffee. From 2:30 to close, the space is reserved for young people to meet with their mentors, connect to programs, or just have some coffee and conversation in a safe, healthy environment.