I Have a Bean, the product of Wheaton-based Second Chance Coffee, is exploding in popularity at Chicago-area Whole Foods stores, but behind the scenes, the company is also serving as one of the rare employers willing to give a fresh start to men and women who served time in prison for felony convictions, the Suburban Life reports.
According to the paper, founder Pete Leonard—whose success has him planning two new locations already—founded the company after a mission trip to Brazil, with its employment focus inspired by his brother-in-law’s difficulty finding a job after being released from prison.
“The resumes of post-prison people get put aside immediately if you check ‘yes’ on the part of the application asking about whether they’ve had a felony conviction,” Leonard told the paper, saying Second Chance Coffee has given jobs to 25 ex-cons. “We can give people an opportunity to work to show they’ve changed, they’re different… We’re willing to give them that chance.”
One former employee, Louis Dooley, who served 16 years for armed robbery and assault, told the paper that even employers who were willing to overlook his crime were turned off by his background. “I really didn’t have any skills in the workplace. I had a high school degree. That’s about it,” he told the paper. “But I Have a Bean had stability. It taught me to pay attention, to be responsible.”