On the day of Rebecca’s graduation from YouthCare’s Barista Training & Customer Service Program, she couldn’t stop smiling. Her giggle was infectious, and our staff raved about how she had become the clear leader of her cohort. Their pride filled the room.

Rebecca came to YouthCare after her mom had lost her job. To help pay for rent, her mom invited friends to move into their apartment. Rebecca began to feel unsafe amid the cramped space and increased chaos. One night, one of her mom’s friends threatened Rebecca’s safety. That’s when she left home, and after calling YouthCare’s Safe Place hotline, found shelter and safety at YouthCare’s Orion Center.

Rebecca told YouthCare staff she was determined to get a job so she could support herself and dreamed of getting her own apartment. She eagerly signed up for the next cohort for YouthCare’s Barista Training and Education Program. She became a role model for her peers, staying late to help her classmates perfect their latte art, and when her cohort started serving up orders at a local café, soothing customers who had not yet had their morning coffee.

As Rebecca continued in the program, her self-confidence grew. But there was one thing she still feared: her practice interview. At the conclusion of each Barista Program, YouthCare sets up practice job interviews with Starbucks managers so youth can feel what it’s like to apply for a job as a barista. The practice interviews terrified Rebecca. She fidgeted with her clothes, nervous that she wasn’t answering the questions correctly. Our staff assured her she was doing just fine, reminded her she was a skilled barista, and worked with her on strategies to reduce her nerves.

Before her practice interview, Rebecca met with a professional clothing stylist—a service we offer all Barista Program participants so that they go into their interviews feeling confident and looking their best. The stylist helped Rebecca pick out a tailored blazer and brand new boots that were professional and fit her exuberant style perfectly.

On the day of the interview, Rebecca sat down in front of her interviewer in her new clothes, feeling nervous yet confident. When she finished, she burst out of the room with a huge grin on her face. The manager had encouraged her to formally apply to Starbucks. She applied that week and was hired on the spot!

Since graduating from the Barista Program, Rebecca has stayed in contact with YouthCare staff. She continues to work at Starbucks, and her manager regularly compliments her on her skills. With the support of YouthCare staff, she also moved into her own apartment and decorated it in her favorite colors so it feels like home.

What’s most touching about Rebecca is her commitment to giving back: she regularly volunteers at YouthCare, helping Barista students learn the secrets to mastering the espresso machines and steaming milk. She describes that the Barista Program changed her life:

 “It built confidence in me that I never thought I’d have. I want to pay it forward by helping others feel the same.”