Planting in Good Ground

A coffee shop helps sex industry survivors grow and flourish.

On a busy corner in Camp Hill, Pa., you’ll encounter a commanding house with white siding and a green roof. Peek through the windows and glimpse the beginnings of Good Ground Coffee Company, a coffee shop that has two clear missions: serve good coffee and empower survivors of the sex industry.

Good Ground is an enterprise of Peace Promise, a non-profit ministry offering holistic support to women in the sex industry in Central Pennsylvania. The coffee house signifies the ministry’s newest chapter: creating economic empowerment opportunities for survivors. It was a long time coming, but God brought together three key components in his perfect timing to make a vision a reality.

The Seed – gainful employment can transform a survivor’s life

Peace Promise started as a prayer gathering of moms at Mechanicsburg (Pa.) BIC who learned about the realities of sexual trafficking and exploitation in their region. The group grew and mobilized; the “church ladies” began reaching out directly to women in the sex industry, first at truck stops and then at strip clubs.

Employment at Good Ground is more than just a paycheck. Survivors are enrolled in a holistic program including trauma therapy, life skills building, and robust support from volunteers and other survivors.

Building relationships with survivors quickly revealed that many did not have the life skills needed to get and keep traditional employment. Susan Vigliano, co-founder of Peace Promise and associate pastor at Mechanicsburg BIC, discovered that simple things like budgeting, meal planning, and finding affordable transportation were insurmountable challenges. “They’re making decisions from a place of desperation and survival,” Susan says. Additionally, some had criminal records or substance addictions that disqualify them from many employment options.

Seeing woman after woman struggle with many of the same issues, Peace Promise started to think: how could trauma-informed businesses with robust emotional, mental, and spiritual support offer an escape to women who may want a different life?

The Soil – two college students with a dream and a building for sale

In 2022, two seniors at Messiah University were creating a business plan to present at the Impact Venture Challenge. (Think Shark Tank but for faith-informed business ventures.) Rachel Beatty and Rachel Ferrence – fondly known as “the Rachels” – wanted to create a coffee shop that would empower women coming out of the sex industry. Beatty’s passion for missional business and deep love of coffee paired perfectly with Ferrence’s background in social work and experience with Pennsylvania’s Dauphin County Human Trafficking task force. The pair contacted Peace Promise to bolster their research and subsequently won the competition, securing $5,000 in capital funding.

Days after meeting the Rachels for the first time, the Peace Promise board toured a building that had just come on the market. It was a big, historic home-turned-hair-salon. Susan recalls the moment she first visited the property: “I wasn’t sure what we were going to do with it,” she says, “but I knew it was our building.”

It took the board several months to finalize their decision to purchase the property; they had never owned property before and needed to ensure it was a viable option for the organization. But in the months of decision-making, no other buyers had any interest in the space. “God kept them away,” says Susan. “He had that building for us.”

Peace Promise purchased the property in the final weeks of the Rachels’ college education. A few days after graduation, Peace Promise threw them a graduation party to celebrate their accomplishments and let them know that “Oh – by the way – we bought a building. Do you want to open the coffee shop?”

Shocked and delighted in equal measure, the Rachels agreed.

The Rain – God’s provision of financial, physical, and human resources that came together in perfect timing

When it came time to finance the building’s mortgage and subsequent renovation, Peace Promise quickly decided to work with the BIC Foundation. (Peace Promise has a Memorandum of Understanding with Mechanicsburg BIC which allowed them to finance with the BIC Foundation.) “We have found the Foundation to be safe. They care about us and what we’re doing. They want us to be successful,” says Susan. Beyond the mortgage and renovation loan, the Foundation helped Peace Promise evaluate their books to see if they could reasonably afford the building. “Working with them is super personal. They’ve been to our building – a bank wouldn’t have done that. The BIC Foundation is in it to see the mission accomplished.”

The four-story building houses more than the coffee shop. Production of Soaps by Survivors (their other enterprise) fills on the lowest level, the coffee shop takes the main level, and the third and fourth floors are used for life skills classes and counseling.

“We are privileged to partner with Peace Promise on their project,” says Jim Reynolds, executive director of the BIC Foundation. “Their ministry and vision is one we are extremely pleased to support. Their love and support of survivors exemplifies the mission Jesus calls us to carry out.”

Others pitched in their resources as well. A retired carpenter volunteered to redo all the trim in the coffee shop, restoring some of the building’s historic charm. Local college students volunteered to paint and clean some of the upstairs community rooms. When the air conditioning units broke during a spring heat wave, a local HVAC company significantly reduced the cost to replace the units as a donation to a ministry. Over the course of the renovation, hundreds of volunteer hands have touched each corner of the space.

Good Ground Coffee Company opened in April 2024 and already employs six survivors. Alongside the Rachels and other employees and volunteers, they make high-quality beverages and café fare for the hundreds of customers who have already walked through the door. (This writer can attest to the tastiness of both the food and the coffee.)

This ministry, which started in the simplicity of bold prayer, is seeing a garden of healing and redemption burst to life as they plant in the good ground God prepared for them.

How does the BIC Foundation fund projects like this?

BIC Foundation (BICF) funding comes from individual and organizational investments. BICF investors receive industry-competitive rates and know their investments further the mission of the Church. 

Email Sean Kleckner to learn more about BICF investments.