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Jax Daily Record Friday, Aug. 4, 201707:10 AM EST

Former homeless veteran supports ministry by opening Springfield coffee shop

“Having faith has carried me along,” says Jason Kelloway.
by: Monty Zickuhr Managing Editor

For Jason Kelloway, coffee is the core ingredient in his community service and his business in Springfield. It also serves as the recipe to help fellow veterans struggling to make the transition from the battlefield to civilian life.

The U.S. Marine Corps veteran opened Social Grounds Coffee Co. in May at 1712 N. Main St. to support his Cup of Love Ministry that helps veterans move out of homelessness.

He opened the coffee shop as a way to create self-sustainability for his nonprofit organization, which helps homeless and struggling veterans reinvent themselves.

“It’s about building relationships and starting conversations,” Kelloway said. “We use coffee to do that.”

Social Grounds serves coffee sourced from farms in Rwanda, Burundi, Guatemala and Nicaragua. It also offers pastries and smoothies.

It seats 28 people and employs three.

Kelloway’s focus on his business and charity are sharp, a stark contrast to his post-military struggles.

After serving five years in the Marines, he worked 12 years in the IT field. That, Kelloway said, is when he lost his way and began relying on drugs and alcohol to fill his sense of emptiness.

His dependence grew and destroyed his marriage. He lost his home. For the next 18 months, he lived out of his vehicle.

But he never lost his faith. He jumped at opportunities to take mission trips to Mozambique and South Africa. Renewed by those experiences, he started Cup of Love in 2015 to help veterans like himself.

“That’s what I was called to do,” Kelloway said. “Having faith has carried me along.”

He moved to Springfield to live closer to the ministry and become more involved in the community.

Always wanting his own business, Kelloway saw synergy in the mix of new businesses coming to Springfield, many of them restaurants, breweries and sports bars.

A coffee shop was the right fit.

“We love what happens through coffee,” Kelloway said. “It was kind of natural.”

Other connections are partnerships with Sulzbacher Center, Clara White Mission and Rethreaded, a social entrepreneurship that offers women work to help break the cycle of the sex trade. Social Grounds also works with missions in Nicaragua and Haiti.

The shop’s first few months have been promising, Kelloway said.

“We’re doing really well,” he said. “We’re exceeding our projections.”

Social Grounds, which roasts its coffee off-site, is buying new equipment and finding a new roasting facility.

It’s also seeking partnerships to help train and provide skills for homeless veterans.

It’s also growing. Kelloway said he hopes to open a second location next year.


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