Five years ago, a coffee shop opened in downtown Claremore. It was located in a booth inside the Willow Tree Mall. And the story on the street about the women making the coffee? They were all fresh out of the prison system.
It sounds a little frightening, to be honest. But owner Rhonda Bear fought for Claremore to hear her testimony, and for the citizens to get to know these women.
And it worked.
She Brews Coffee House now has two locations; one is in historic downtown Claremore and the other is located next to the movie theater on Country Club Road.
Rhonda Bear knows what it’s like to be an outcast, to have people whisper behind your back. A product of the prison system herself after a long battle with drug addiction, Rhonda found herself facing a 10-year sentence. She lost her kids. She lost everything. While serving her time, she made a conscious decision to get her children back and to get clean.
After serving her time, Rhonda was released and found guidance through the Stand in the Gap ministry. She learned how to set goals, how to be a sober mom, and how to care properly for her kids. She met her husband, they married and relocated to Claremore, which is his hometown.
Rhonda knew she wanted to help other women who had been in her situation. Her first thought was to buy a house to provide women a place to live while getting back on their feet. On the Friday of Memorial Day weekend in 2008, the first house came on her radar. She thought she’d spend some time praying about it; by the end of the weekend, she had signed the lease and it was fully furnished, thanks to generous donors. The first house for His House Outreach Ministries housed four women. Today, there are eight homes in use.
Five years after setting up housing, Rhonda realized that it would be helpful for all of her women to be able to get jobs. It would teach responsibility and give them something to focus on. She thought, ‘What is a low-cost investment opportunity? Hmm…coffee is cheap!”
She Brews opened inside the downtown Willow Tree Mall serving coffee, hot chocolate, and wassail. Eventually the shop moved, expanding the menu to include lunch. The women working the counter and serving customers are all helped by Rhonda and His House Ministries. While there are currently 30 women in Rhonda’s homes, they don’t all work at She Brews. Some of them have various jobs around town at local hotels and restaurants. Sometimes the criminal history gets in the way of finding employment, and Rhonda gives jobs to those women at She Brews, so they can have some employment history.
As far as living in the His House homes, the program is approximately one year long. The residents learn everything they need to start their lives fresh. If, after the year, she isn’t quite ready to be alone, there is a graduate home. Once in the graduate home, the residents learn about dating, setting boundaries, how to maintain employment, and how to continue their education. (His House Ministries has an agreement with Rogers State University that allows the women to attend school.) They work on repairing the relationships with their children, reinstating driver’s licenses, and other building blocks for a successful life.
To date, 114 women have successfully completed Rhonda’s program, and 163 children have been reunited with their moms. Being that Oklahoma is home to 28,000 children who currently have an incarcerated parent, the work that Rhonda is doing with her program is a huge step in the right direction.
Rhonda said, “Claremore has been amazing. There’s no other place like Rogers County. They have welcomed me and my women with open arms.”
She Brews Downtown is located at 414 W. Will Rogers in historic downtown Claremore. They are open from 10a – 5p, Monday – Saturday, serving your favorite coffee and hot tea drinks, as well as delicious lunch items, like sandwiches, soup, and wraps. And of course, the gooey butter cake!
She Brews South is located at 1301 W. Country Club Rd. Hours are 6a – 2p, Monday – Saturday, and 6p – 10p on Friday and Saturday. It’s a great place to stop in after a movie! Also, She Brews South hosts an open mic night the second Friday of each month until midnight! There is a drive-thru for your convenience, and every morning from 6a – 8a is Happy Hour, complete with half-price drinks! It’s the perfect opportunity to grab a hot drink for your morning commute. Shop local and save money!
To keep up with the latest happenings at She Brews, follow them on facebook. You can also enter the jingle contest for a chance to win FREE COFFEE for one year!