TULSA -- People who eat downtown at a restaurant called Take 2: A Resonance Cafe are doing more than just spending their money on a sandwich.
Their lunch orders are also helping women, such as Angelia Cooper, as they chart a new path in life now that they're out of prison.
"Who I am today is so different than who I was," Cooper said. "Maybe if I wouldn't gone through that, I wouldn't be the strong woman that I am today that's going to be the way that I want to be."
Cooper said an addiction to painkillers caused her to lose her way, but she's correcting course thanks to the job at Take 2.
"A lot of people when they come out of prison, getting a job is stressful. It's tough because of the felony label," Cooper said. "(Take 2) just builds your confidence and makes you feel like you can be anything that you want to be."
The restaurant is run by the Resonance Center for Women, a Tulsa-based organization that works to break down barriers for former felons. The service is needed in Oklahoma because the state currently sends twice as many women to prison as the national average, according to a study published recently by the University of Oklahoma.
Resonance picks women to work at Take 2 after they completed the group's substance abuse programs in either the Eddie Warrior Correctional Center in Taft, Okla., or the Turley Residential Center in Tulsa.
"The women that we serve need all the help they can get," said Cathy Hodges, the reentry program supervisor at Resonance. "There are so many women that are released into our communities every day that don't have a place to go, that don't have a job."
"They don't have an opportunity to do anything different," she added, "and they end up back up in prison."
Hodges said all the women who work at Take 2 live above the restaurant in a refurbished loft.
"We've eliminated three barriers right off the bat," Hodges said. "There's no need for transportation; no need to housing; no need for employment because we've got it all right here."
The women's time at Take 2 is only temporary because the program lasts six months. Before the women leave, however, Resonance helps connect them with other housing and better-paying jobs. The women are also required to set aside some of their paychecks so that they can leave with about $2,000 in savings by the end of the program.
Katie Woodworth, a former inmate, has now worked her way up to assistant manager at Take 2. She said her dream is to go to college and become a drug and alcohol counselor.
"I want to help other people kind of how people helped me," Woodworth said. "There is a better life out there, and some people that are on drugs or using, they don't know. I would like to reach out more and help people."
Cooper, however, would like to stay at Take 2 and work as a "house mother" to the future participants.
"Just to be an encouragement to other women that come into that, I think that would just be totally awesome to help one person," Cooper said.
So far Take 2 has put 17 women to work since opening in March 2016. The opportunity gives them a taste of what their future could be.
Take 2: A Resonance Cafe is located at Third and Main in downtown Tulsa.
Stay in touch with us anytime, anywhere.
Sign up for newsletters emailed to your inbox. Select from these options: Breaking News, Severe Weather, School Closings, Daily Headlines and Daily Forecasts.