Tony Disney ventured to Chicago from California two years ago looking for a fresh start, a second chance. But it wasn’t an easy journey as he faced many barriers and little resources as an ex-felon who served time in prison.
“There were many consequences as a result of my crime. I lost my career, my family, my freedom, but it didn’t take away my life,” said Tony. He says as a convicted felon, finding a job was also nearly impossible. “I would get the interview but once human resources ran a background check on me they would say ‘sorry you’re a liability risk,’” said Tony.
After he finished his three-year parole, on-going therapy and much soul searching, Tony decided to come to the Chicago area where his girlfriend had recently moved for a job. He knew no one and the job prospects looked bleak. One weekend he was browsing the farmer’s market in Wheaton and stumbled on a booth selling I Have a Bean coffee.
“I had never had a cup of coffee like that before and then I learned of the company’s mission,” said Tony. “They told me they hire exclusively people who’ve been in prison.”
The coffee roasting business based in Wheaton is called Second Chance Coffee Company and was formed in 2007 to accomplish two things—roast and distribute artisan, premium coffee and help transform the lives of people post-prison in the process. Tony says after meeting with the owner he was offered a job as a sales representative. But he faced another stumbling block, he needed a place to live. His mother, Pastor Karen Disney who serves two United Methodist Churches in Montana, decided to reach out in the connection to see what might be available for her son.
“I briefly met Bishop Sally Dyck when she was a guest speaker for the Yellowstone Annual Conference years ago and I was in the midst of discerning my call to ministry,” said Karen. “I was so impressed by her kindness and caring that when I knew that my son Tony was moving to the Chicago area I decided to take a chance and contact her to see if she knew of any resources that could help him.”
Bishop Sally Dyck and Tony recently met at the Chicago Temple office.
Bishop Dyck reached out to Gary United Methodist Church in Wheaton to help Tony. He was able to connect with the pastors and find a new source of support.
“After Tony served his time and was released, we quickly learned that his life would never be the same,” said Karen. “I’m very grateful that during that time he found a United Methodist Church that accepted him and helped him begin again. I also believe God led Tony to I Have a Bean Coffee. They have given him the opportunity to start his life over and for that I am eternally grateful.”
Tony says he’s been a Methodist all his life, but admits he strayed off God’s path. “There was a big hole in my life where I wasn’t letting God in,” said Tony. “It was prison where I reconnected with God. God really came to me and comforted me.”
Looking back on his life journey, Tony says he’s grateful for the United Methodist connections he’s made and the opportunities that have come his way. Today, Tony is gainfully employed with I Have a Bean and recently bought a brand new car. “For the first time I feel I’m in a stable place and I am hoping to grow alongside this company to help others, like me, get back on their feet after prison,” said Tony. “I believe in the power of redemption and I believe in second chances.”
If you would like more info on I Have a Bean coffee and fundraisers for your church, contact Tony Disney at 630-384-9657 or email