‘We were called to help:’ Coffee shop in Jacksonville changing homeless veteran’s lives

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Grabbing a cup of coffee in the morning is something many do to kick-start their day. But Jason Kelloway had a different mission.


The owner of Social Grounds Coffee Company in Springfield at 1712 Main St., created this coffee shop to change homeless veterans’ lives.

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“We were called to help those who couldn’t help themselves. He gives encouragement, opportunity, and mentorship through coffee,” Kelloway said.

You see, Kelloway was a Marine Corps veteran who fell on hard times. He suffered from PSTD, drug abuse, and alcohol abuse. He was even homeless for nearly two years and had to live in his car.

But he said he felt God told him to start a coffee shop and hire homeless veterans.

READ: NE Florida unsheltered homeless population spikes as state and local leaders search for solutions

He started his business in 2015. Since then, he said he helped eight homeless veterans to return to civilian life.

“The eight that we hired have been in different stages of life. Some homeless in shelters, some had VA help but still need mentorship,” Kelloway said.

One person that Kelloway helped said it’s changed his life.

“It gave me an opportunity to reevaluate things and make me a much better person,” veteran Michael Perron said.

After working for Kelloway, Perron was about to get a new job, a home, and custody of his kids. Perron said Kelloway gave him something he would never forget.

READ: This Week in the 904: Bill sponsor to prevent homeless people from public sleeping speaks with ANJ

“Giving a veteran that was in transition a sense of purpose,” Perron said.

According to Changing Homelessness, there are currently 222 homeless veterans in Duval County. That is up by 30 people compared to last year.

Kelloway said his goal is to get that number down by one cup of coffee at a time.

According to Changing Homelessness, 214 veterans were housed over the last year.

If you would like to support Kelloway’s cause, visit his website by clicking here.

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