FORT MYERS, Fla.-- A Downtown Fort Myers Cafe receives national attention for serving up second chances.
In this economy, everyone who has a job is lucky, but few are luckier than waitress, Michelle Werline, who works at Gwendolyn's Cafe in Fort Myers.
Before starting at Gwendolyn's, Michelle had a hard time holding a job. When it came to mistakes, she had served up as many as one person could.
Michelle Werline is a recovering drug addict. As a result of her addictions, the state placed her 3 children in foster care, and although she's been sober for four years now, Michelle says most employers just don't want to deal with her baggage.
That is where Gwendolyn Howard, owner of Gwendolyn's Cafe differs. Not only has she given Michelle another chance, but there is also Wendy the cook and John the delivery man. They are all recovering addicts.
If you were to ask Gwendolyn why she would give these people another chance, her anser is simple.
"I like to see them get better," said Howard.
Just about everyone who works at the cafe is a recovering addict. Howard hires them because she understands the struggles of her employees. She is a recovering alcoholic herself.
"I've been very lucky and I want people to have what I have," said Howard.
Since opening the cafe a few years ago, she's hired about 20 people with similar, checkered pasts.
Howard admits it doesn't always work out. But those employees who do work out are so grateful for the opportunity, they more than make up for the disappointments.
Thanks to her job at Gwendolyn's Cafe, Michelle Werline has her 3 children back at home.
"It's been crazy," said Werline. "I didn't know that it would ever happen."
As a business model, what Gwendolyn is doing may or may not be prudent. As a life model, she has accomplished something we could all learn from.