“It’s not the most traditional way of helping.”
Agrees Erica Raggett founder of coffee shop ‘A 2nd Cup’, the new nonprofit committed to ending human trafficking. But how exactly can you use caffeine against such a huge and complicated problem?
“And so I wanted to offer a place that was just a place where people would go to get great coffee and could learn about human trafficking that way. So one of our major pushes is to raise awareness in Houston to people who wouldn’t necessarily be in the right place to hear it, and then to partner those people who hear about it with organizations who are already doing something.”
So it’s coffee with a side of mission. Right now ‘A 2nd Cup’ is in a temporary location in The Vineyard Church just off 11th street in the Heights. At first glance it may look like any other coffee shop with its comfy chairs, tables, funky art work and the sound of grinding coffee. But a few key things in the room indicate, it’s much more than that.
“This map here is a map of Houston and it’s broken down by zip code and it has the bigger number is the number of known brothels in that area.”
Raggett is standing in front of a wall inside the building that tells the story of their mission. Aside from the map of places where trafficking happens in Houston, there is an image of a thermometer that displays their fund-raising efforts.
Elsewhere on the wall is her piece de resistance, clipboards with information about local anti-trafficking organizations.
“I wanted to make that really easy for people so once they heard about human trafficking and asked ok what can I do about it? They would have an easy way to make that transition into being able to help to volunteer.”
Her passion comes from hearing about human trafficking in Houston, an overwhelming sense of wanting to help people, and a love of coffee. Her goal is to make her coffee shop a self-sustaining full-time operation. Right now it’s only open Tuesdays and Sundays, with the majority of the proceeds going to after-care for victims of human trafficking.
One of the coffee fueled conversations I overheard the day I stopped by indicated Raggett might actually be on to something.
“So from the book what did you guys find and what particularly intrigued you and what kind of challenges did you have reading this material.”
“It’s hard to read about a girl that’s thirteen having like ten men a night or more, especially when she doesn’t want it.”
A group of women were discussing a book written about a girl who was sold into prostitution. This is exactly the kind of thing Raggett wants to see more of not only in ‘A 2nd Cup’ but throughout the city. She hopes it will help make the difference to end human trafficking once and for all.