Bayview's Old Skool Cafe continues mission of pulling youth out of cycle of violence
SAN FRANCISCO -- A woman from San Francisco who started a violence prevention program 18 years ago in the Bayview is helping disrupt the cycle of incarceration.
Teresa Goines walks down a hallway of history: framed photos remind her of what she's built. When we met her back in 2008, the former corrections officer had started Old Skool Cafe, a youth-run supper club.
She poured her savings and retirement into the faith-based violence prevention program, training young people out of her Bayview home to do catering and pop-up events, helping keep them out of trouble.
Almost two decades later, after years of fundraising, Old Skool Cafe's 1920s jazz-themed restaurant has a permanent home and owns the Bayview neighborhood building where it's located.
"This is what I actually saw in my head all those years ago," Goines beamed.
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More than 700 at-risk, formerly incarcerated, and foster youth have gone through the program. It teaches youths between the ages of 16 and 22 all the aspects of the restaurant business for a second chance.
"They're changing their lives. And we're seeing young people who've been incarcerated for years actually breaking that cycle completely," said Goines.
Among those who have had their lives changed by the program is Jonathan "Jay" Zavala. He was in and out of the juvenile justice system as a teenager.
"I was on the run for about a year until they got me," he recalled.
Then training at Old Skool Cafe in 2012 and barber school gave him the skills and support for a clean break from his old life.
"I was able to find the gold in me, and whatever was not good, see that as the past," Zavala said.
A business owner for seven years, Zavala runs the Barberhood, which has two locations in San Francisco. He's grateful to Goines, the woman affectionately known as "Mama T."
"[She's] kind of inspiring. Like, everyone else wants to be like that, to be able to help others," he said.
Goines is proud of him.
"Seeing him have that vision and dream while he was here, then getting to pour fuel on that and invest in him, then watching him fulfill that, it's like winning the lottery," Goines said with a smile.
And that gives hope to 18-year-old Royale Jefferson-Vincent, who's been in the foster care system. Old Skool's leadership training has brought her closer to her dream of owning a restaurant.
"You gotta take it step by step, day by day. I'm pushing my goal for real," Jefferson-Vincent said.
"When I look at the young people here and see them running this classy restaurant, see them making an impact on the community and changing their lives, it's all worth it," declared Goines.
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