Target: Owners of RedTail Coffee, Seth and Kelly Kelley
Goal: Thank the Kelleys for launching a café focused on employing the homeless
Recently, Seth and Kelly Kelley launched the RedTail Coffee shop with the intent to hire the homeless. Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut highlighted one of the most biting problems of being homeless: “[They] can’t get a job without a permanent address and can’t get a permanent address without a job.” Other issues those in the homeless community face are stigmas and stereotypes attached to their situations: they must be lazy, criminals, dirty, etc. The Kelleys are trying to combat these stereotypes by opening up a café and hiring homeless employees not only to help them get back on their feet, but also to demonstrate to the public how wrong those stigmas are about these people.
The Kelleys were inspired by the low-income housing project, Red Tail Ponds, opening in Fort Collins, CO. The noticed a lot of fear and ignorance concerning the homeless community at a neighborhood meeting and decided to do something about it. Having never owned a café before, it proved to be a big but successful undertaking. Contrary to many starting businesses, the Kelleys have managed to turn a profit within the first three months. They are even prouder of the fact that they are helping to change opinions around the area about homeless people.
They began by hiring two experienced baristas to help get the place going and one homeless man. While he declined to be named, the Kelleys say he has been an incredibly hard worker. In fact, it has been a learning curve for them all. The coffee shop opens at 6:30am weekdays. This means he must wait in line at the shelter for a shower, then wait for breakfast, then catch the bus to take him to work across town. He faces barriers never even considered by those who are privileged enough to have homes. And yet he proves to be a great worker despite these difficulties.
The Kelleys know that helping the community see the homeless as human beings instead of stereotypes or statistics is one of the best parts of their business. The community is not stupid, but rather ignorant; they have been taught an incorrect idea by society and the media about what it means to be homeless. Provide them with an opportunity to relearn these ideas—like what the Kelleys are doing with RedTail Coffee—and people will change. It might not be all of them, and it definitely won’t be right away, but change is inevitable. Thank the Kelleys for being part of progress.
Dear Seth and Kelly Kelley,
I recently read about your café, the RedTail Coffee shop focused on employing the homeless. I think this is an incredible opportunity to help people back on their feet and also show the community how wrong stereotypes can be in society. Thank you for being part of this positive change.
It takes courage to go against the popular opinion, like the voices being heard at the neighborhood meeting concerning the low-income housing project. You took the initiative and chose to educate rather than blend in. I appreciate your work greatly and look forward to seeing this business grow over the years.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Alayna the Extravagant via Wikimedia Commons