CINCINNATI — Lorrie Carter was blown away when she was hired on as the first employee at The Fringe Coffee House.
Back in 2018, she was released from prison after serving time for driving under the influence. And now, nearly two years later, she never thought this would happen.
“It means a lot to me,” said Carter. “It means a stable job. It means relationships. Most importantly, it’s very spiritual for me. I give God all the glory. There’s so much that — because of that — that will happen will happen for me and my family.”
Carter will be one of six employees to be hired on at The Fringe Coffee House here in Hamilton. Co-founder Sarah Davis and her husband Patrick started the business to help provide job opportunities to ex-convicts.
“One of the biggest barriers for people coming home successfully after prison is gaining employment,” said Davis. “If you have a felony on your record, a lot of times that’s a major strike, so we wanted to be part of the solution to that.”
And Davis knows the struggle far too well. She served six years in prison for a drinking and driving fatality. She was nurse at the time, and had never been in trouble with the law. Through this business, she hopes it will change the stigma that ex-convicts have.
“We’re very passionate about changing societal stereotypes about people who have been through incarceration,” said Davis. “A lot of times, people hold judgements and don’t even realize they do about people who have committed crimes or have been in prison.”
Not only is Davis looking to change stereotypes, but she and her husband are looking to better the lives of their employees. That is why they created a year-long re-entry program.
“For some people, they still need their GED,” said Davis. “Some people need recovery support, help resume writing, parenting skills, some people just need a sense of community and mentorship. So whatever their specific needs are that would be a hindrance to them successfully rebuilding their life, those are the issues we want to address and support while they’re with us.”
Carter says she extremely grateful for this opportunity and looks forward to sharing her story and being a help to others.
“One of the things I hope to gain here is the people and just be a light,” said Carter. “God has given me such a light inside that I just want to share that and help.”
The Fringe Coffee House’s official grand opening is Oct. 29. For more information, visit thefringecoffeehouse.com.