The Fringe Coffee House helps ex-convicts with employment

It’s not easy serving time. 

But maybe as hard is getting a job once you’ve gotten out.

Patrick and Sarah Davis know something about that. They both brushed up against the law, did their time and resolved to lead better, more purpose-driven lives. 

Now, they run The Fringe Coffee House, a downtown Hamilton cafe that interweaves an appreciation for street art and caffeinated beverages while employing, empowering and supporting ex-convicts living on the fringes of society as they reintegrate into their community.

The couple made it their mission to help those struggling through the re-entry process like they once had. The idea was to turn a tough, maybe even humiliating process into something wonderful. 

Patrick and Sarah Davis are photographed on Thursday, August 5, 2021 at their business, The Fringe Coffee House, in Hamilton, Ohio. The couple employs formerly incarcerated individuals to help them reintegrate back into society. Outside of work, they also try to help their employees find resources they need to get back on their feet. Another part of The Fringe’s mission is its music and arts studio for children, designated to reach at-risk kids before they end up in the system. Children can take free lessons and learn to play guitar, piano, produce their own music, video edit and more.

The pair began by investing their life savings, the proceeds from their recently-sold home and the $20,000 raised by their community and started the project. The decision was a leap of faith, but also one grounded on evidence that programs similar to theirs have been successful. HomeBoy Industries in Los Angeles and Greyston Bakery in New York, for example, hire those with criminal records and give them opportunities to learn new skills.Both have thrived with a lot of community support.