Women’s Bean Project is a social enterprise that employs women who have struggled for far too long to find and retain steady and meaningful work.  During 6-9 month program, each woman earns a steady paycheck while creating and preparing food mixes, soups, spice blends and coffee and teas that are sold in the Denver retail store, in shops across much of the United States as well as online.

In addition to the paycheck and job skills, women employees work with mentors, take classes that sharpen their life skills so that they are job-ready when their time at Women’s Bean Project comes to an end.

Most of all, the women discover their purpose, recognize their strengths and have a strong focus on what their next chapter can and will be. The transformation of these women is incredible. They join the organization lost, afraid to trust others and have little faith in what the future holds.  When these employees graduate from Women’s Bean Project, they are confident in their capabilities, believe firmly in a stable future and are proud of how far they have come.

Keri is a single mom of two children in their late teens and early 20s. She was sober for then years while she raised them. However, after a knee surgery in 2014, she relapsed into heavy drug use. In October 2015, she was shot in the back of the head during an argument. She survived but the struggles made her doubt each and every day.

“It was a rough couple months after that because I was still homeless and living on the streets,” Keri said. “After that, I was in shelter, to shelter, to shelter, to shelter. The man who shot me got out of jail on bond when I was in a shelter. I moved to a safe house. He did end up getting sentenced and he’s in prison now, and so I feel a lot safer knowing that.”

Keri admits that at first, she was nervous about the fresh start Women’s Bean Project offered her.

“When I came here, I didn’t know which direction I was going,” Keri said. “I just knew that I hadn’t worked in a long time. I was around a bunch of people I didn’t know, a job I’ve never done before. Immediately, when I came in, I felt the support of atmosphere here, and so it just helped. It helped with having a case manager and a mentor to walk through this process with me. It’s been awesome.”

Keri is now working full time in a job she loves and is raising her teenage son at a home she can afford.

Keri told me that with enough love, and support and people believing in you… EVERYTHING is possible.

Here’s a glimpse at Keri’s Real Story:

Linda came to Women’s Bean Project because she needed direction to get her life back on a straight path.

For years, Linda owned her own barber shop at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs. She was very successful and credits her mother for always pushing her to work hard and do her best.  Linda would give 70-75 haircuts a day. She left all of that behind when her mother and father both became ill. She didn’t work for years so that she could cared for them. That lasted many years.

Around the time of their passings, her husband also died and she turned to alcohol and drugs to fill the void.  She lost her home.

“That was a scary life,” Linda said. “That wasn’t me to be on the street like that.”

One night, she woke up to the life she was living and sought help. When she was in recovery, her daughter recommended she apply at Women’s Bean Project. Her daughter successfully graduated from the program as well.

“I needed direction,” Linda said. “I needed help getting my life back on path on the straight.”

Linda has done that and during her time at Women’s Bean Project, she learned new skills and mastered how to work with others as part of a team. She worked with a mentor, achieved housing and is spending a lot of time with her family.  and is now excited about what is in her future.

“I’ve learned how to be confident again,” Linda said. “I’ve learned how to just succeed in this life again.”

Here’s a glimpse at Linda’s Real Story:

Chelsea is also forever grateful for her time at Women’s Bean Project. Now, she is working in a doctor’s office, supporting patients and also helping in office organization. And, Chelsea will tell you with a huge smile that the best thing right now is having her daughter back in her life.  She would never have thought this was possible several years ago.

Chelsea was raised by her single mother and her grandmother. Her mother worked and went to school while Chelsea and her sisters were young so her grandmother was the rock that helped her the tough times, including abuse. That trauma resurfaced when Chelsea became pregnant.

Two days after Chelsea’s daughter was born, her grandmother died and the pressure and stress started to take over Chelsea’s life. Chelsea got involved with people who introduced her to drugs as a way to numb her pain.  She fell hard. She lost her job. She lost her home. She lost her daughter (Chelsea’s father cared for her daughter for several years starting when the little girl was 6 years old).

When Chelsea arrived at Women’s Bean Project, Chelsea had just come out of being homeless and admits she was lost.  There were days she just didn’t show up to work. She didn’t have it in her.  She expected, to be fired.  hat didn’t happen. Chelsea had people at Women’s Bean Project who deeply listened to her and who helped her listen to herself to find ways to work through the tough days and cope so that she didn’t have to miss as much work.

Chelsea mastered gift baskets. Everyone raves about how wonderfully she could create a basket filled with Women’s Bean Project products.

“Without the Woman’s Bean Project, I don’t know where I would be,” Chelsea said. “Women’s Bean Project helps women be so successful because they are so great at being supportive. All of them are so loving. They do not judge any of us that are coming in here. I just love how forgiving and caring and loving they are. They help us to notice our strength and our resilience in everything that we do. They help us transition to a better life and they are rooting us on the entire time. I’ve never been so empowered.”

Here’s a glimpse at Chelsea’s Real Story:

Women’s Bean Project hires 10-15 women, every 8-weeks. The women work 8a.m.- 4: 30p.m., Monday-Friday. It’s during these hours the women work on the production line, in the retail shop, meet with mentors and take classes to make them stronger and ready to take on a permanent position in the community.

For those interested in working at Women’s Bean Project, here is more information on the program.