Brewerytown Café ‘The Monkey and the Elephant’ Dedicated to Helping Young Adults Who Are Breaking Out of the Foster Care System – Greeley Tribune

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Issues related to the pandemic continue to struggle for many businesses in the Delaware Valley. But for a cafe in Philadelphia, failure is not an option. This Brewerytown Cafe is a unique operation dedicated to helping a group of people who are often overlooked and underestimated.

K’von Harris-Robinson is a skilled barista. Looks like there’s no drink he can’t make.

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“Chai tea has seven ingredients. How? Cinnamon … black tea,” Harris-Robinson said.

But it does a lot more than just brew your favorite cup of joe these days.

“Really started from the bottom, all the way up,” he said.

He is now the general manager of “monkey and elephantIn Brewerytown, a non-profit cafe dedicated to employing young adults who are breaking out of the foster care system.

Harris-Robinson herself is a former foster child.

“We really become the support system for people who don’t have it,” Harris-Robinson said.

“They’re almost overlooked, forgotten, left behind,” said executive director Anne Harrison.

Over the past seven years, The Monkey and the Elephant has helped dozens of young adults between the ages of 18 and 23. They get part-time jobs in cafes and weekly development workshops.

“The young people coming to us have a chance to earn money and learn about the professional world and really get their feet under them,” Harrison said.

But the pandemic jeopardized the mission, closing the doors here for three months in 2020.

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“That first year there were PPP loans, a lot of city, state and federal support, and that helped us get through the first year,” Harrison said.

2021 was even tougher though.

“We’re really still struggling to recover,” Harrison said.

In December, Omicron once again forced the cafe to shut down indoor dining. It only reopened last month, with outdoor dining as well.

Layoffs are never an option.

“Our participants know they’ll get a set wage, a living wage, at least hours so they can support themselves because they’re really on their own,” Harrison said. “All the things you knew you depended on your parents or the community are not there.”

So, to make up for the reduction in foot traffic, the cafe is now selling merchandise online and offering take-home items. Everything from their coffee to cocoa. Plus, dry mix to make your favorite bakery item at home too.

And the menu of the cafe is always changing. Not only is it seasonal, but everything is made from scratch as well.

“It’s kind of my favorite season because we have lemon loaves and lemonade,” Harris-Robinson said.

Harris-Robinson is also doing something new.

He is building a leadership program that prepares the next generation for full-time jobs when their time is up.

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“Come from all walks of life, with different baggage and struggles. It is wonderful to be able to open it up and help people grow,” he said.

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