Our Coffee House

How do you define a small town? One horse? One stoplight? Ours is pretty much a one coffee shop town! The cafe is a busy little place in our community of 500. When it closed for renovations, a dilemma was created for the locals who meet there on a regular basis.

Enter… Reston United Church in Reston, Manitoba, and a few of the congregation who envisioned meeting the needs of our ‘thirsty’ citizens by opening our doors to the public during the few days that the restaurant would be closed. This venture turned into a success story that we would like to share.

In November, 2013, our goal was to provide morning coffee and toast for the 3 or 4 days of the renovations, and perhaps provide a hot lunch on one of the days. An announcement requesting volunteers was made in church one Sunday. Immediately, one man, who was currently taking cancer treatments, offered to be the RISE AND SHINE guy, opening the church doors at 6 am every day. A couple of others offered to take over the next shift, and the plan was underway.

The renovations took longer than expected, but the momentum of the first few days of Coffee House grew. We provided coffee and breakfast plus a hot lunch every day that week to an average of 40-50 every day!   Donations of food and volunteer workers came from our church and the community, many of whom had not previously been involved with the church.

The Coffee House continues to this day as a regular event every Monday morning from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m.  A hot lunch is served one Monday of each month. Interestingly enough, the cafe owners don’t mind taking some days off now and again, to recharge knowing that their customers’ needs will be met.

Kelly Hooper has since completed his cancer treatments and is back to work. He credits his hours spent at the Coffee House for a few months as being rewarding and therapeutic, and claims the social contact aided in his recovery. Donna Wilkins still devotes every Monday to Coffee House. Al Bloomer has replaced Kelly as the early bird, donating his time with a welcoming smile, as well as his “toast-making talents” every week.

The rewards for us are many. Financially, this project has generated over $10 000, a significant part of our budget this past year. The social benefits are obvious, as there are more people passing through our basement each week than the sanctuary. They are meeting as a community in our building and for that we are grateful.

Submitted by Judy Lochhead  http://www.edge-ucc.ca/stories/

"I don’t know if I believe in God or not, but for an hour a week, this is a good place to think about that."

T.L.

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