HAMILTON, Ohio — Little more than a month before it opens in Hamilton, the Fringe Coffee House is already making an impact in the lives of convicted felons by providing an opportunity for employment, and a second chance.
Fringe Coffee House co-founder Patrick Davis said the hope is all about breaking a stigma in all facets of the eclectic space.
“We wanted the artwork to strike up meaningful conversation,” he said. “You have some street art. Some hip-hop guys, and then some Salvador Dali.”
Davis and his wife Sarah know how hard it can be to be newly released from prison. He spent four and a half years in prison for aggravated robbery and kidnapping; she was convicted of a DUI fatality.
“You are more than the worst thing you’ve ever done,” he said. “It’s a sentiment that brings hope, and an opportunity for second chances.”
The coffee shop is set to open in late October, but Davis said getting to this point has been a journey.
“I remember being shot at. I should be in prison for 45 years. Here I am. I’ve been given an opportunity to be free,” he said.
Their passion now is helping convicted people get back on their feet after their release.
“You did it, don’t blame anyone else. Part of this restoration process is you owning it. What you did as a value as a human being are two separate issues,” he said.
They provide the job at the coffee house along with free tattoo removal, parenting, GED help, therapy and financial literacy classes. They also plan to host art and music programs for at-risk kids.
“I see the light come on in their eyes. Man, you believe in me. I’ve never had someone believe in me.”
If paint is proof of believing in yourself in others, Sarah and Patrick Davis are creating a masterpiece.
“There’s hope after prison," Davis said. "My wife and I are examples of it. There’s people all over the world. They fight, and get their lives back.”