Starbucks, which seems to have backed off what seemed like a mission to build one on every corner, is known for its international philanthropy. However, there are some Arizona-grown coffee shops that are having a greater social, emotional, and economic impact on the residents of Phoenix. One of those is Java Grounds, which is located on Deer Valley Road in the northwest Valley.
Joe Eriquez, a New York native, understands the needs of underserved communities. He served as a pastor for fifteen years, and worked with Young Life International, a youth ministry for junior high and high school students. He opened Java Grounds in June 2012 to provide more than lattes; it provides workforce training, employment, and hope for the neighborhood. It is succeeding. Seven days a week, it is a safe training ground for young people in how to run a business, handle finances, be responsible, and provide great customer service.
Enriquez has another passion: sports. He was a Glendale high school coach for ten years. He sees sports as a way to channel anger and physicality, which can be so damaging to youth in inner cities, into positive and healthy activities. In 2007, Eriquez created Heart for the City. Heart for the City is a non-profit organization, committed to the physical, emotional, and spiritual well being of the children and poor families of the inner city communities.
“We want to develop relationships with kids,” says Enriquez, “To empower them with education and tools, so they can dream beyond their neighborhoods,”
Among other services, Heart for the City provides sports equipment, background-checked coaches and mentors, Christmas presents (3000 last year), and job development. It is building and rebuilding lives for poor youth in Glendale.
Eriquez and Heart for the City will have a sixth annual banquet on Sunday, February 9th at the Renaissance Glendale Hotel. A Valentine Affair will include a dinner featuring community leaders, such as the new Mayor of Glendale Jerry Weiers and former Glendale City Manager Ed Beasley; a silent auction; a casino ballroom; and other fun prizes and entertainment.
“We want to take care of our own backyard,” says Enriquez. With the programs, Enrique is providing through Heart for the City and Java Grounds, he is providing a vision for nurturing inner city youth in Glendale, from K thru 12, which will provide future homegrown business, political and community leaders for the entire Valley.