GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Two West Michigan men are using coffee to bring the community together with those who have served. Since starting the project back in 2017, the two men are finally opening their coffee shop at Veterans Memorial Park in downtown Grand Rapids.

Michael Hyacinthe and Tyler Way met 13 years ago. Over a cup of coffee, they decided to create HAS HEART, a Michigan-based nonprofit that pairs veterans with designers, to share stories through art, design and fashion. Their coffee shop, which will be called HAS HEART Coffee Shop, isn’t just a regular coffee shop, according to the co-founders. It goes much deeper than that.

“Our main goal is simply to connect the community,” said Way, Co-Founder & Creative Director of HAS HEART. “The veteran community, the civilian community, the creative community, with the veteran community … and just have this be a blending ground for people to come together and interact with one another.”

The idea had been brewing for years, ever since Way and Hyacinthe started their nonprofit in 2011. Hyacinthe served in the Navy for eight years.

“We believe that the society is best benefited for those who sacrificed can come back to a community that is opening, open to them and is also aware of the struggles,” said Hyacinthe, Co-Founder & Chairman for HAS HEART.

When it comes to the hiring process, the co-founders said they are looking for veterans and their spouses to work the space.

“I am a dedicated, passionate veteran who is really concerned about opportunities to reintegrate veterans,” said Hyacinthe. “I am very fortunate that along my service, I was not injured, but I have experienced, and I’ve communicated with a lot of veterans who were injured as a result of combat, and so this is my way of continuing to give back.”

HAS HEART is partnering with Treetops Collective to create the barista aprons and seat cushions, which are all made out of old veteran uniforms. They came together Tuesday night to start making them. Treetops Collective is a multi-cultural movement that connects new American refugee women with the community, to help them find a place of belonging.

“Veterans and refugees have had really challenging experiences that don’t just end when the conflict ends,” said Tarah Carnahan, Co-Founder & Executive Director of Treetops Collective. I think by having safe spaces, like the coffee shop, to come to and find people who may have had similar experiences and to share like with them, those are the connections we are all about, so the connection felt really natural with us.”

HAS HEART is also partnering with MadCap Coffee Company, to supply the drinks when the shop opens. HAS HEART is still collecting old uniforms, and if you’re interested in applying, you can visit the website.