TAMPA, Fla. — Making pumpkin spice lattes is changing Mindi Vaughan’s life.
She mastered the tasty art at the Portico Cafe, a coffee shop in downtown Tampa that looks like a Starbucks but has a much deeper purpose.
“I had a spotty resume. I had a criminal history," says Vaughan. "But this place gave me a second chance.”
The 32-year-old now works behind the counter at the eatery connected to the First United Methodist Church.
Two years ago, Mindi was addicted to heroin when she gave birth to a daughter. The Department of Children and Families took her newborn away.
“It was the best day and worst day of my life,” says Vaughan.
“Because I got the help that I needed,” says Vaughan.
That help came from the Portico Cafe, which hires people recovering from addiction and homelessness.
Portico employees earn $13.50 an hour and get help transitioning to better lives.
“We wanted to be a cafe with a mission,” says the Rev. Justin LaRosa.
The Oxford Exchange helped with Portico's menu. Proceeds from the cafe go to programs helping employees. The Portico also has two large meeting rooms and is courting groups to meet and eat there.
Thanks to the help she received, Mindi is clean now. She was reunited with her daughter and is now aiming for a manager position.
“Mindi has been a jewel to watch blossom,” says the Rev. LaRosa.
The Portico Cafe is open Mondays to Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. To see the menu or for more info, visit theportico.org/cafe/.