"The whole structure of this organization is meant for the youth to keep rising up in leadership and management," Goines said. "I'm a big believer in ownership. ... The more decision-making opportunities they have, the more life-changing it is."
Tammy Vaitai, 22, was withdrawn and quiet as a result of the domestic violence she witnessed while she was growing up. She has been involved with Goines' program for five years, and today she's the youth manager of the restaurant, handling the scheduling, training and service in the "front of the house." She also performs spoken-word poetry at the restaurant and recently started singing with the band.
"Now, I own my own car, I have a full-time job, and I'm currently applying to be a homeowner," she said. "I'm so stoked about my future."
She credits Goines with helping make it all possible.
"(Goines) pushes you past your comfort zone and past whatever limits you give yourself, " she said. "She's great at encouraging us to just dream big. She obviously did it herself. This (restaurant) was a big dream when it started off ... and she made it happen. "
For Zavala, the program has been the break he needed to stay on the right path.
"I've been staying out of trouble," he said. "Now, I have a support system. ... I feel like we're all like family trying to help each other."
He's hoping that Old Skool's scholarship fund will help him attend technical school, where he wants to create and patent his own inventions.
Stories like this are what motivate Goines. She wants to establish other Old Skool Cafes across the country, and she hopes that some of the young people she's working with now will help her.
"I think there's something about a light going on when you realize your potential," she said.
"The core of it is giving them hope. ... Once that light goes on, whatever they do, they're on their way to fly."
Want to get involved? Check out the Old Skool Cafe website at www.oldskoolcafe.org and see how to help.