The Trail Youth Coffee Home is a non-profit helping to get teens off the streets and into a supportive community, with the job opportunity to work at the coffee home. The Trail was founded by Tonya Guinn, Kristen Zuray and Wendy Laxton in 2013. When talking to Guinn, she explained how the Trail Youth Coffee Home came into existence. “We were walking on the Rainier Trail in Issaquah and saw the words ‘worthless’ and ‘society’s trash’ carved on a bench and on a tree with several young people congregating; some sleeping in the woods, using drugs and lacking basic resources. Our mission had begun then. We started serving coffee and donuts weekly to these young people who had lost hope, bringing our own kids with us, earning their trust– and the right to speak truth to them, and to connect them to the many resources that are available.
“I had no idea the impact it would make in the community and in my own life. I had been struggling with the tragic loss of my brother Eric, who died at age 20, as a victim of a drunk driving accident. The young person who was responsible was also 20 years old and struggled with opiates in addition to alcohol. It was healing to be on that trail with young people, listening to their stories, forming relationships and connecting them to community resources. I felt as though maybe I could coach at least one of them in a way that might save themselves or someone close to them from a similar tragedy.
“In 2014, Trail Youth became a 501c3 non-profit. A few years later, the City of Issaquah cleaned up the Rainier Trail and we were led to come to the Snoqualmie Trail to serve younger teens in our own community. These teens faced challenges ranging from suicidal ideation, depression, anxiety, couch surfing [and] drugs, among others. We realized the need to provide a safe place in which all youth felt valued and loved, regardless of their background.”
The Trail Youth’s mission as a non-profit is to serve the youth of the valley. The Trail has locations in North Bend, the Snoqualmie Valley Hospital, Echo Glen Children’s Center for incarcerated youth and a mobile coffee trailer that travels to places where teens congregate and is available for hire for events.
“We just expanded [in the Snoqualmie Valley Hospital] from a coffee cart to the gift shop. Last week we moved across the lobby to quadruple our space and convert their old gift shop to our coffee space. We train baristas there, and we’re currently looking for teen volunteers if your schedule is flexible (we are there 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Monday-Thursday),” Guinn explained.
As for the Echo Glen Children’s Center for incarcerated youth, “We have a barista training program there. We pour into residents there so when they are released they can get a job, all the while sharing our mission that they are loved, valued and here for a purpose.”
During the pandemic, Guinn said “[The Trail] had to pivot to stay in business and continue to support youth. Our one-on-one mentorship turned into job training mentoring. We fundraised and purchased our mobile coffee trailer. We started curbside coffee service and order-ahead devices [available] through our website. We expanded our in-store coffee roasting and began shipping orders through our website. We ship anywhere in the U.S. and you can purchase our coffee at trailyouthcoffee.com. We also started supplying coffee to restaurants, churches and schools. We serve an average of 250 different teens a month– many we see several times a week. Teens can get one free drink a day, and may take advantage of our free programs like art during our teen hangout hours. Coffee sales fund our programs. Also during COVID-19 we opened up locations at the hospital and Echo Glen Children’s Center.”
So what can you do to support this non-profit? If you are 19 and under you can volunteer at the Trail Youth because they “are always looking for volunteers.” In fact, the Trail trained 75 baristas and 33 of them went on to paying jobs in the community last year. If you are over 19 and would like to support them, buy their gourmet freshly roasted coffee (made at their North Bend location). If you are a teen aged 13-19, you get free drinks daily. The Trail Youth is “roasting for resiliency. Buy a cup, support a teen, change their future.”
“We see youth struggling with so many things and that’s why our mission is so important. We want every youth to know they are loved, valuable and here for a purpose. Did you know a recent healthy community survey reported that one in four Snoqualmie Valley Youths do not have a trusted adult to talk to? One in four seniors have seriously contemplated suicide in the last year,” Guinn explained. “Awareness on mental illness. Our new podcast launched today on this topic. Check it out! [It is called] “Coffee Break with Trail Youth.””
Guinn also told me a fun fact about the Trail. “Did you know celebrity Mike Rowe remodeled our space in 12 days from a barbershop to a ‘Coffee Home’ on his show “Returning the Favor”? Our episode, “Grounds of Love,” changed our lives and many in the community. Watch it here.”
Trail Youth has it all. Delicious coffee, opportunities to volunteer and a helpful and supportive network of people who have your back. If you want to volunteer or go to one of their many events, you can check them out here.
With positive labels on every cup of coffee and outreach programs to support the youth of the community, the Trail Youth Coffee Home is one of the emerging heroes for the welfare of our future.