HARDEMAN COUNTY, Tenn. — It’s a small building but it’s full of long stories. They’re stories told by people based on experience.
“This is like a totally judgement-free place.”
The sounds of coffee brewing or newspapers flipping is what you would expect inside this cafe, but it’s no ordinary place to get pastries for breakfast. It`s like a family bound by people who aim to keep each other on the right path every single day.
The faces behind the counter and ones taking orders are all recovering from either drugs or alcohol.
“I was at the end of my road. I don’t think I would’ve made it much longer.”
The Common Grounds Cafe and Co. has helped people live again.
It’s the first social enterprise of what’s called The Nehemiah Project, a non-profit that partners with the Hardeman County Drug Court. It’s goal is to help people break barriers to employment.
“Nehemiah was a prophet in the Bible and he instigated rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. What we want to do is build Hardeman County by building up our people,” explained Chief Operating Officer Kandy Shackelford.
“We have several people working here, at The Common Grounds who have been through that recovery and are wanting to change their lives. We also employ special needs people.”
Most of these employees have faced personal battles for years. They’ve fought the unimaginable that you don’t always see just by looking at them.
“Most of us we turned to that because inside we were broken.”
Leah Green has three children. Like so many others, her drug addiction became something she could no longer bare.
“When you can’t get out of bed each morning without having something, that’s a problem so I knew I had a problem. I was just ashamed to ask.”
People working here said that’s a battle many addicts face. That’s why they’re thankful for this organization and those who run it for giving them something no one else would.
“So many places didn’t give me a chance but she gave me a chance and she continues to lift me up every day.”