Bellringer: Coffee Oasis provides Christmas to homeless youth

Coffee Oasis, in Poulsbo and at all of its locations, is more than a coffee shop. It’s a place where homeless youth can feel at home, especially around the holidays.

Coffee Oasis is one of four charities in Poulsbo that receives funds from the Bellringer campaign hosted by the Poulsbo Lions Club. It uses those funds to provide youth with gifts catered to them and provide a festive holiday and family atmosphere that the youth may otherwise not have.

“The money specifically goes towards this time of year is kind of creating a family Christmas experience for our kids, called ‘Family Christmas Project,” executive director Daniel Frederick said. “A lot of our kids don’t have families to give them what we think of as the normal Christmas experience, and so we spend that money to get all our kids presents unique to them, and then we celebrate with them.”

Fredrick noted that this time of year and in the current state of the world, these kids need someone to wrap around them and give them those experiences of love and family that they otherwise do not have.

Fredricks parents, Dave and Cindy Frederick, started Coffee Oasis in Bremerton in the late 1990s and began expanding countywide as well as into Pierce and Mason counties. It was at the invitation of Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson that a location be opened in Poulsbo.

“My dad got this call from Mayor Erickson. He thought it was a prank call,” Frederick said.

Erickson had set a goal of bringing Coffee Oasis to Poulsbo after becoming aware of a growing population of homeless youth in the city and asking about resources for these young people and being pointed toward Coffee Oasis.

“My dad thankfully responded to this call, and that’s what started this really great relationship with the city, the Rotary club, and other groups like the Lions club,” Frederick said.

The Coffee Oasis in Poulsbo, just off Iverson Street is closed, not because of COVID-19, but for remodeling and maintenance. However, the drop-in center next door is still open for youth in need.

“I think what’s endeared us to the community is the job training we provide for kids. Kids get placed in local businesses to get internships, and it moves kids from having no work experience to having work experience,” Frederick explained. “The stories of kids getting hired after their internships just because they have become indispensable to those worksites has been amazing in Poulsbo.”

The coronavirus has impacted Coffee Oasis, but it is doing its best to continue to serve youth safely.

“From the business side, it has been devastating. As you can imagine not being able to have people sit in the shops has been difficult. Throughout our locations our sales have dropped by fifty percent. Being a nonprofit that does seek to be sustainable, not just through donations but through coffee sales, it’s had the potential to be a very destructive year,” Frederick said.

He stated that what has kept Coffee Oasis afloat during this pandemic has been the surrounding communities chipping in, specifically to keep the youth programs going.

“Early on we had to figure out how to do this in a safe way. For a couple of weeks we pulled back just to resuscitate ourselves with what was happening but then we actually wound up expanding some of our youth programs just so kids could have a place to stay,” Frederick said.

The Coffee Oasis crisis text line blew up at the beginning of the pandemic. It’s hard to shelter in a place when you don’t have a place to go to.

“Like everyone else I think we’re ready for whatever the new normal is,” Frederick said.

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If you would like to donate to the Lions Club Bellringer fundraiser please mail donations to P.O. Box 1244 Poulsbo, WA, 98370.

Bellringer Donor List

Michael Seifert $200; Jan Seifert $400; Stephen and Kristine Growdon $100—In memory of Jim and Elain Turner; Stella M. Bigger $100; Evelyn A. Dano$100; Earl and Nancy Hooper $200; Leann Mong $200—Loving memory of Doug, Mary and Harold Mong; Helen and Bill Schmidt $150; Angela E. Hays$100; Neil and Margaret Torvik $250; Anonymous $500—In memory of Susan Willis; Anonymous $400—In memory Tony & Elsie Mandio and Bill & Suzan Seaman; Anonymous $200. Total: $2,900 this week, $6,300 overall.