By Alyssa Smith, Staff Writer —
Tucked away in the Highland Park neighborhood of Chattanooga, Together Cafe serves artisan coffee while supporting victims of human trafficking.
Opening its doors in Dec. 2018, what started as a vision for Pastor Deven Wallace of Redemption to the Nations Church became a physical reality.
The cafe’s mission is to end human trafficking, raise awareness of the issue and provide support for trafficking survivors.
“It is my personal responsibility to make sure that I am seeking justice for and defending those who cannot defend themselves,” said Chelsea Massengill, general manager of the cafe.
Together Cafe is a part of the Together Coalition, a group of faith-based organizations focused on raising awareness for human trafficking. Alongside the cafe are the organizations 7th Well and Willowbend Farms.
7th Well, founded by Tess Brandon, focuses on minors who have been trafficked. At the beginning of this month, with the help of Together Cafe, they opened Tennessee’s first drop-in center where victims in need can do their laundry or eat a hot meal.
According to 7th Well, the average life expectancy for a child in sex trafficking is about seven years, while the average age of a child first used in the trade is between 12 and 14 years.
Willowbend Farms, founded by Sarah McKinnis, also helps victims of human trafficking and other forms of sexual violence.
One of the many charitable projects Together Cafe has taken part in, the organization set up the Giving Tree for the 2019 Christmas season. For this event, customers were encouraged to take an item listing tag off of a tree and purchase a gift for a survivor.
While their cafe has continued to get busier and busier, the organization is overjoyed at the awareness it has brought to people, and the resulting restoration and support it has granted survivors.
The cafe welcomes anyone and gives directly back to the community.
“When you come to the cafe you are bringing restoration to survivors of human trafficking; men and women who you may never meet but you were able to touch their life,” Massengill said.
Anyone can help with the cause—the first step is to become aware and educate yourself. The cafe hopes to hold classes for education and awareness on trafficking. They also hope to open sister locations across the United States, and even in other countries.
“Who knew purchasing a cup of coffee could be a way of loving your neighbor?” Massengill said. “We are truly ending injustice one cup at a time.”