A new coffee shop that will hire and help refugees has leased a space in the Bayou Duplantier Shopping Center on Lee Drive, near the intersection of Highland Road, with plans to open in early 2018.
Light House Coffee has been in the works for nearly a year and is the brainchild of Amber and Steve Elworth. He is a minister at Chapel on the Campus. Until recently, she was an English instructor at Catholic Charities of Baton Rouge, which is an official refugee resettlement agency of the federal government.
Through her work at Catholic Charities, Amber Elworth came to realize the many challenges refugees and political asylees face as they try to become self sufficient, so she determined to establish a small business that will help them.
“I wanted to create a structure that will enable more people to get involved in helping refugees,” she says. “The needs are overwhelming and no one person can solve even one person’s needs.”
Light House Coffee will serve a variety of coffees and pastries as well as a few light meals. The cafe will hire refugees and asylees to work as baristas, servers and cashiers.
Additionally, Light House Coffee will have a small area with shelf space to sell goods and decorative accessories hand made by refugee women. The area will be branded as the Hope Shop and will sell pottery, weaved cloths and other works on commission for the artisans who make them. Elworth is partnering with several nonprofit groups, including Hands for Hope, on that portion of the business.
The Elworths and their business partner, Cindy Barker, raised $50,000 through a crowdfunding campaign to help launch Light House Coffee. Most of the money will go towards renovating their space, which was most recently occupied by a Mr. Dollar store. Elworth, a native of Ruston and LSU graduate, will run the shop. She hopes to be open by January.