Veteran uses Washington County business to help his community

WASHINGTON, Pa. — As we thank our veterans this week for their service, one of them is using his thriving business to help the community.

On the surface, it’s obvious what a business in the Park Place Plaza in Washington County is brewing — coffee the nose will delight in. But press deeper, and you’ll see there’s more to Crazy Horse Coffee.

“It’s named after my army unit,” said owner James Bendel, who served two tours in Iraq.

Bendel’s army jacket is on display and he pointed out the residue from a rocket-propelled grenade explosion. He also mentioned that he was shot in the head on his birthday and the helmet that protected him is on a shelf behind the coffee counter.

He doesn’t sugarcoat the stories behind everything hanging on the walls.

His passion for the army is evident, but that’s not this veteran’s only passion; he also helps the community.

Shortly after he opened Crazy Horse Coffee, Bendel held a fundraiser for cystic fibrosis that raised $40,000.

“It kind of inspired me to open a nonprofit and kind of boost giving back through the coffee shop,” said Bendel. So he started a nonprofit called Help-Hard, meant to help local organizations who apply.

Help Hard has collected toys for the Washington County Salvation Army, donated money to the Washington County Sheriff’s Department for their K9s, and helped a woman battling breast cancer.

“I appreciate that he does that,” said customer and small business owner Matthew Moser. “We’re always looking to partner with other small business owners to give back and support our communities.”

To support health care heroes during the height of the pandemic, Crazy Horse Coffee donated drinks to health care workers.

“I try to connect everything with the charitable contribution and back to the shop, and make sure it comes full circle,” said Bendel. “That’s kind of the philosophy.”

If you’d like your charity to apply for help through Help-Hard, CLICK HERE.