“A coffee shop is one place where everyone knows they belong; they are welcome.” That’s the view of David Frederick, The Coffee Oasis executive director. This is certainly true for The Coffee Oasis, located in Port Orchard, Bremerton, Kingston, Poulsbo and, most recently, Tacoma — and Frederick exudes that welcome to all who visit one of the five shops.
But this is not your ordinary coffee shop by any means. The Coffee Oasis is aptly named, as it is a literal refuge for the youth who come to the drop-in shelters or the one of two overnight shelters in Tacoma or Bremerton.
“Our program is all about restoring communities, restoring families, helping kids. Here, all really means all,” Frederick says.
In 1990s, Frederick’s parents, Dave and Cindy Frederick, were foster parents. They saw opportunities to make a difference in the life of a child. They opened their home to kids and sometimes, entire families would come to stay. This ministry of caring for others was the seeds for what is now The Coffee Oasis.
In 1996, Pastor Dave Frederick began Hope in Christ Ministries in Bremerton with the awareness that families and kids needed healing and compassion. He didn’t drink coffee, and Daniel Frederick laughs at that, explaining that his parents were “kinda healthy food nuts who juiced their own carrots.”
One afternoon, the family passed by this coffee shop for sale, and they jumped at the opportunity, knowing when people visit coffee shops, they come in, hang out and form communities. They knew nothing about coffee and at first, bought and served an Italian roast. Now, the organization roasts its own coffee and has developed direct relationships with the coffee farmers. The Coffee Oasis not only believes in serving local communities, but by supporting small, sustainable coffee farms in places like Ethiopia, New Guinea, Sumatra and Mexico, it is helping others globally.
Daniel Frederick became executive director of The Coffee Oasis upon his father’s passing in 2019. He carries with him the philosophy of, and passion for, alleviating the suffering of others with a commitment to be with the teens and young people during all their highs and lows.
“It’s a ministry of proximity,” he explains.
The Coffee Oasis serves youth 13 to 25, and depending on location, different age groups are drawn to its services.
“Kids come to us with trauma and hurt. They are not necessarily trusting, and we have to build that trust. The healing can take years,” Frederick says.
Drop-in centers are open in the later afternoon and evening. Each serves a daily meal to those who come by. This is where the kids and young adults learn to make connections, gain security and, once connected with one of the case managers on staff, set their own goals for achievement.
John Rusk is a 22-year-old Port Orchard resident interested in video games and all things technical. He says he has been coming to The Coffee Oasis “forever” and is a Friday night regular. While he was in high school, the organization helped him find an internship with the Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce, where he helped build its website and did data analysis.
The 100-hour internship paid a stipend and showed Rusk how to apply his passion for technology in a job setting. Now, he keeps coming back.
“There’s so much good done here,” he says. “They give kids whatever they need: food, clothes, tents, job training. It is a safe place. For me, I gained confidence and was a shown a path, a future for success.”
Upstairs from the coffee shops, the walls of the drop-in centers and lined with games and guitars. There’s a pool table, couches, books, a white board with inspirational sayings and a kitchen. There’s also a closet with clothes, personal hygiene items and toiletries, a place to do laundry and a space to be safe and get clean.
Josh Wischoff is the manager of youth programs in Port Orchard. He’s been with the organization for 14 years, 11 of which were spent in Bremerton, and is one of the first staff “outside” of the Frederick family. He feels that his position at The Coffee Oasis is not just a job — more like a calling — and believes that every person needs love and acceptance, and to be cared for.
“My goal is to keep conversations going, to listen,” he says. “I often ask, what does it mean to be people who live off a marina? While the homeless kids in Port Orchard may not be as visible as in other settings, they are out there, living in the woods, going back and forth on the ferry.”
The Port Orchard location serves nearly 30 youth in the afternoons. Like all The Coffee Oasis locations, they have access to professionals who help them find jobs, housing and resources to help them survive. As Wishchoff said, “Things happen to people because life happens. We can be a calm in the storm.”