I believe that one of the most important things to learn in life is that you can make a difference in your community, no matter where you live. I have seen so many good deeds – people helped, lives improved – because someone cared. ~Rosalynn Carter
Ashley Mengoni saw a need in her community and decided she wanted to help. Ashley is the manager of The Essential Baking Company in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood, nestled five minutes north of downtown and three blocks from our Compendium office.
Inspired by the caffe sospeso (“suspended coffee” in Italian) concept of a “pending” coffee paid for by one customer as an advance donation toward another needy customer, Ashley wanted to implement something similar at the café. She recruited her fiancé Jimmy, and together they went to the hardware store and bought some wooden rods. Jimmy sawed the rods into small rounds, creating 75 tokens that the couple then glazed and painted with hearts and coffee cups. The concept was simple: a charitable customer could purchase a $2.75 token and it would remain in a glass jar near the cash register for anyone in need to inconspicuously use as payment for a cup of coffee.
The 75 tokens sold out at the café in three days. The suspended coffee concept was so warmly received by the community that Ashley and her team decided to expand it to include bread. One token bought a cup of coffee and two tokens purchased a suspended loaf of freshly baked bread.
Ashley and Jimmy have made hundreds more tokens in recent months. Impressed by the success of the tokens, The Essential Baking Company expanded the program to their other three cafés in the Seattle area. Ashley also regularly delivers tokens to Mary’s Place and Homeless in Seattle, neighborhood charities that work directly with the homeless.
It never ceases to amaze us the power that one individual has to affect the lives of others. Even if it’s a simple cup of hot coffee and slice of fresh bread, the kindness in the gesture is priceless.
Image copyright Rex Hohlbein, Homeless in Seattle.