PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – "Free coffee sir," Tommy Braithwaite offered passersby.
For 30-year-old Braithwaite, the word 'free' represents a new beginning.
"I recently reentered society after a traumatic incarceration," he said
It's his first day working the Brewin' Peace Coffee cart on the corner of South Broad and Ellsworth.
Every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday from 8 to 11 a.m. you can find him or one of his coworkers handing out free cups of coffee to people passing by.
"So I hope you guys enjoy your coffee," he said to a couple customers.
It's one of several programs with the Augustinian Defenders of the Rights of the Poor or A.D.R.O.P.
The nonprofit in South Philly works for a more restorative criminal justice system, providing jobs for people like Braithwaite, which can be a challenge.
"I've applied to hundreds of jobs. As soon as they background check, they tell me they are going with somebody else," he explained.
According to the National Institute of Justice, nearly 44% of ex-convicts released from prison return their first year out of prison.
Braithwaite's job is a way to change that while making a difference in the lives of others.
"A cup of coffee will go a long way," one customer said.
Each cup of coffee, building a human connection, one Braithwaite finds purpose and redemption in.
"My goal when I woke up today was to be on time and to at least reach out and help one person," he said. "Whether it's sharing my story or being an active listener I just want to be that person who can help the next man."
This story was written by Josh Sanders.
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