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Barista Pours Coffee With A Cause

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Brewing coffee is a labor of love for Lisa Miccolis, now she's pouring her passion into helping foster children who've aged out of the system.

She's using crowd sourcing to help open up her own coffee shop called "The Monkey and the Elephant." It's named in honor of one of the favorite animals of the foster child she met who sparked the idea.

"This friend in South Africa just really opened my eyes to the difficulties these youths face."

Without a family support system for foster kids, Philadelphia County statistics show youths who age out of foster care are more likely to lead a life of crime. Others relegated to a life of poverty.

"It's hard having a job and maintaining a job," says Michelle Belo, a foster youth.

Belo is just the type of person Miccolis' coffee shop plans to employ.

The South Philly barista has been working with the 21-year-old West Philly mother at pop-up cafes since Belo aged out of the system.

"She's taught me how to go outside of my stepping stones," says Belo.

Miccolis says her coffee shop will offer the perfect blend of a coffee community willing to help bridge the gap between foster care and independence through mentoring.

"The idea is to really engage customers of the cafe to do more than just stopping in for daily coffee, but to really get to know the youth and be an active member of their lives," said Miccolis. She hopes this will become a one stop shop for youths who's options have run out. "The end goal is to be a supportive community that the youth can come back to, regardless. A lot of the programs that exist there is an end point to them."

https://rally.org/themonkeytheelephant#

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