Broken Grounds Coffee Co. hopes to build relationships for a good cause

Broken Grounds Coffee Co. hopes to build relationships for a good cause

Herschell and Charity Hargrave are the owners of Broken Grounds Coffee Co. in Millersburg. Their coffee shop and restaurant is dedicated to the ongoing effort of their working relationship with the people of Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.


When customers first enter the Broken Grounds Coffee Co. at 214 W Jackson St. in Millersburg, one of the things that might attract their attention is the pine wood tables where patrons converse, sip coffee and grab a bite to eat.

These tables are not just any tables; they have significant meaning. All of the pine wood furniture in Millersburg’s newest café and eatery comes from Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

It is there that the owners of the coffee shop, Herschell and Charity Hargrave, have developed a special relationship with the people of the reservation, a place Herschell Hargrave said is almost like a third-world country, filled with both heartache and beauty.

“We actually visited three years ago, and we fell in love with the people there,” Hargrave said. “It is incredible, but it is rampant with poverty, alcoholism, suicide, and now the methamphetamine trade is seeping in and many of the young people there are getting caught up in drugs.”

Over the past three years the Hargraves and their team have visited Pine Ridge numerous times and have built a relationship with the people there. He said their main focus on visits is to not only help with construction projects, but also to empower the people of Pine Ridge to do the work themselves.

“What we do is equip the native leaders to lead and give them the tools they need to minister to the people there,” Hargrave said. “We are about serving missions, and one of the missions we work with is Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. We help with their wood-cutting program that distributes wood to the elderly and handicapped during the winter. We have done a lot of food distribution, and we are going to start a gardening program. To a person, everyone who has gone out to help us has been richly blessed.”

The last time the group visited, the tribe wanted to give the Hargraves a gift, so they gifted them a large amount of cedar wood. Thus all of the cedar tables and furniture that people will see in the coffee house was built with wood donated from Pine Ridge.

“We thought it would be a neat way to highlight the mission that we do,” Hargrave said.

They also do food distribution, and this fall they will travel west to the reservation to build a barn with a riding arena and classrooms for the children to help get them off the streets and into a productive, caring environment.

Hargrave said they have simply fallen in love with the community there, and last year included three trips, one of which was Christmas on the Reservation, an event that included 225 shoe box gifts, something they will do again this year.

Hargrave said one of their mission fundraisers will include the program, Change for a Change, where people who purchase coffee or food can round their bill up to the next dollar with all of that money going directly to the Pine Ridge fund.

“The growth we have seen is amazing, and we have been accepted as a part of the tribal community,” Hargrave said, so much so that he has earned himself a nickname from the tribespeople.

“They call me Black Buffalo,” Hargrave said.

The Hargraves are originally from Miami, Florida and found their way north to Wooster via Dallas, Texas.

They have worked with troubled youth, foster care and adoption agencies. In Texas the couple started their own company that focused on recruiting and training foster and adoptive parents. They have personally fostered 129 children throughout the years, so they are willing to do what they ask of others.

“I always tell people that if it does not break your heart to see a child go, you shouldn’t be doing it,” Hargrave said. “Because really, a lot of these kids are having an opportunity to experience love for the first time. It is a hard calling but ultimately a rewarding calling to know that someone’s trajectory in life is impacted because of the love you can give them.”

In 2007 the couple moved from Dallas to Wooster, where Hargrave became the program director at Children’s Home of Ohio. One of his main focal points was recruiting and educating prospective adoptive parents from area churches.

“The need is so great,” Hargrave said. “There are 600 children in Ohio right now who are awaiting adoption. I always felt that if one person from each church would take a child, and that church surrounded that child, there would be no kids left to adopt in Ohio.”

Eventually the Hargraves came to Millersburg to begin Broken Grounds Coffee Co. and Broken Grounds Church.

“We wanted to impact the bigger picture, and so this church and the café is really a place where people can come in, connect, find some healing and be a part of a community,” Hargrave said.

Broken Grounds Coffee Co. will serve coffee and food. Hargrave said the purpose is to provide a place for fellowship.

“If people want to just get a cup of coffee, they will go to the gas station, but they come to a place like this to sit, talk and develop relationships,” Hargrave said. “That is a big part of what we are. We want to have the very best coffee and service to earn the right to share the life we have discovered.”

Broken Grounds Coffee Co. will serve a full range of coffees; a full breakfast menu with pancakes, sausage, eggs, breakfast burritos and more; traditional soups and salads; and grilled chicken and pulled pork sandwiches. He said the goal is to eventually add burgers and fries. They are working closely with a local farmer to purchase Black Angus beef.

“We want to source locally as much as possible,” Hargrave said.

The Hargraves also own One-Eighty Institute, which partners with the municipal courts in Millersburg and serves as an incarceration/diversion program. As an alternative to going to jail, they take in men and women who go through a 20-week group program that focuses on developing better social and life skills, relational skills, conflict resolutions, and other areas that can improve their lives.

“It’s a way we can invest in their lives to hopefully change that home environment that makes life better for them and their children. Connecting with and building relationships with community families really is the purpose behind Broken Grounds. We want to be a place where people can rediscover purpose in life,” Hargrave said.

The Hargraves pastor the church, which is an additional ministry part of what Broken Grounds provides. The focal point there is outreach with services taking place each Sunday at 8:45 a.m. and 10 a.m. The church rotates four bands for its services, two of them Southern Gospel and the other two more contemporary praise and worship music. There also will be live music at the coffee house Friday evenings.

Broken Grounds Coffee Co. is open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Thursday and Sunday from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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