The Coffee Shop: Nearly $100,000 raised for Benevolence Fund
Published August 05, 2011
When Emerald Heights residents stop by the Coffee Shop for their morning “cup of Joe,” they get a whole lot more than a jolt of caffeine and the selection of daily breakfasts available for just $2.
They’ll be greeted warmly by the all-volunteer staff, share the day’s news and community scoop with their neighbors, and get the day started with a few giggles and guffaws.
"So, yes, we are a Coffee Shop,” says Donald G. Williams, resident and coffee shop manager. “But those of us who work here like to think of it as a Smiley Shop… a fun place to start the day conversing with friends."
With every visit, Coffee Shop customers are also doing their part to provide their neighbors more financial security. That’s because, as they fill their coffee cups, they are also filling the coffers of the Emerald Heights Benevolence Fund. Established in 1992, the Benevolence Fund offers financial assistance to those residents whose funds have depleted over time.
According to long-time resident Jane Turnbull, this shop started as an ice cream parlor in 1993, complete with high stools and soda shop decor. Emerald Heights employees staffed the shop and sold ice cream treats on weekday afternoons. But sales were slow because the treats were "spoiling" dinner, and the dining room offered the same delicious Theno's ice cream as dessert.
Resident Wendell Wonderly suggested that offering coffee and breakfast treats in the morning might be a better use for the space, and that the proceeds could support the Benevolence Fund. Soon the ice cream parlor was transformed into the Coffee Shop. Residents brought their coffee mugs to hang on the wall, and resident volunteers became the new Coffee Shop staff.
Since the shop opened in the spring of 1995, resident volunteer labor has raised more than $95,000 for the Benevolence Fund. The shop is open six days a week and relies on 32 volunteers to keep everything running smoothly.
“By the end of May this year, we hope to make it over $100,000,” says Mr. Williams.
Wally Hansen places his order with volunteer Bill Franz, while Evelyn Pizzo prepares espresso.
I’ll take the special!
Lately, the Coffee Shop has been selling a whole lot more than coffee. It’s the resident- and staff-hosted “specials” that really get people lining up at the counter.
“Our gross sales vary week to week, between $350 and $450, but the specials let us hit as high as $800,” explains Mr. Williams, who hopes to offer specials twice monthly.
The “specials” give residents and even staff members who love to cook a chance to show off their skills and sell a favorite treat. Recent guest-chef treats include: Lois Franz' cornmeal pancakes, Grand Marnier French toast, cinnamon/pecan sweet rolls (sold out six dozen in 31 minutes!), biscotti and scones.
CEO Lisa Hardy recently stepped up to the counter and prepared Grandma Reynolds’ Oatmeal Pancakes. They were a big hit! (You can read more about this experience in the CEO blog.)
“Another big event at the Coffee Shop is the June Strawberry Festival, where we typically serves more than 200 residents and their guests,” adds Mr. Williams. “And we can’t forget the our singers, JIM, JOHN & BOB, who bring in their sing-a-long tunes, which often rock the walls, as we all join in!”
Next time you’re visiting Emerald Heights, be sure to stop by the Coffee Shop. Operated by the residents for the residents, it’s a truly special place on campus.
The Coffee Shop is a great place to stop by for good company and lively conversation. Pictured here (left to right): Marilyn Farrell, Evelyn Pizzo (behind the counter), Rich Lake, Virginia Santini, Bill Franz, Dick Pizzo, Ed Brown and Wally Hanson.