Helpings Cafe turns Valley homeless into employees

PHOENIX - A few months ago she was homeless, walking Valley streets with her husband and her 16-month-old son. Everything they owned was in a baby stroller.

"All my little belongings were in that stroller. It's hard being homeless and having a child. It's very hard on those cold nights. We used to sleep at McDonald's just to stay warm," said Roberta Serrano.

Now Serrano is one of the newest employees at Helpings Cafe, Catering and Market.

"I feel like I'm very lucky right now to have this opportunity," said Serrano.

Serrano said she feels lucky because Helpings isn't your normal business. Organizers said Helpings is a social venture aimed at bringing an end to homelessness.

Kate Thoene with UMOM New Day Center said the program works by providing homeless families staying at UMOM opportunities to work in Helpings.

Roberta Serrano is training to be a barista.

"I'm pretty confident that with my training and skills I will be able to go out there get another job and be a productive citizen," said Serrano.

Along with coffee and drinks Helpings also has a unique menu and pricing guide.

Drinks are priced the same as Starbucks, but a menu to the side shows customers what they are really buying.

For example, one dozen muffins means dinner for a homeless family. While a muffin and a coffee can provide an asthma inhaler to a child in need.

Thoene said they put the price guide up in restaurant as a reminder to customers that all proceeds will benefit needy families.

More than anything, Serrano said that what her new job has really given her is hope.

"I feel good. I feel good about myself again," said Serrano.

Helpings Cafe is located at 32nd Street and Van Buren. It opens to the public on April 14.

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