Coffee shop gives troubled kids new lease on life

La Grande’s Higher Grounds coffee shop never was intended to be just about coffee, but has had more of an effect on troubled kids’ lives than ever imagined.

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Steve Fund began Higher Grounds coffee shop in La Grande with the intention of providing a safe place for people with drug and alcohol problems to hang out around the clock.

The coffee shop ended up attracting a young crowd, who—under Fund’s tutelage—turned their lives around and helped clean up the city.

Then came a night in July when someone — authorities still don’t know who — painted racial epithets and swastikas on buildings along Fir Street. It was done in glaring, hateful red. The next morning, Terry McClure, who owns a jewelry store in the Olde Towne building and is a hearty supporter of Higher Grounds, organized a party to erase the blight.

McClure furnished the necessary gear, scrapers and brushes and paint, and a group of about a half dozen Higher Grounds customers went to work. By noon, the graffiti was gone. “The kids figured that since they hung out here, they’d get blamed for it anyway. So, they cleaned it up,” Fund said.

Read more at The Observer.