By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — Now that breakfast has become a staple for hungry guests at Café on Vine, the meal ministry needs additional volunteers to sustain it, executive director Waunita Sullivan says.
That need grows more urgent because Christians Who Care Inc. has ended its volunteer partnership with Café on Vine to prepare and serve breakfast at the café on weekdays.
The partnership began 14 months ago after the closing of Timothy’s House of Hope in Davenport, where Christians Who Care previously served breakfast to people in need. Café on Vine, which already serves lunch Monday through Saturday and dinner on Sunday, agreed to partner with Christians Who Care to keep breakfast on the table — at the café located at Sixth and Vine streets.
A Catholic Messenger story on the successful breakfast partnership had gone to press last week when Christians Who Care President Larry Thomas told Sullivan that his nonprofit would begin serving breakfast at another location. The reason: Thomas wants to share God’s word in a morning devotional with breakfast guests, as he did at Timothy’s House of Hope. Café on Vine’s funders include donors whose funding guidelines restrict promotion of religion. Christians Who Care is self-supporting and has no restrictions on promoting its faith-based message, Thomas said.
In an interview during breakfast at the café July 10, Thomas, wearing a T-shirt and jeans and a cross around his neck, talked about his ministry’s desire to feed the Word of God to people who are hungry. “We’re supposed to feed them spiritually and nutritiously. That was what my goal was.”
He understood from the start of the partnership that “you can’t bring religion in here” but felt compelled to try. He said his son asked him, “Dad, have you saved anyone in the last year?” Thomas said that question prompted him to move his ministry to Cedar Memorial Church, a little more than a mile away from Café on Vine.
Sullivan respects Thomas’ religious convictions and appreciated the partnership. However, “we’re a nondenominational agency with our focus on feeding those who are in need of a hot meal,” she told The Catholic Messenger.
“We do not formally share any one religion over another; we feed anyone who comes through our doors. It is not our mission to influence our guests’ spiritual beliefs. We do believe actions of service speak louder than words and Café on Vine’s mission is to serve those in need.”
Café on Vine had been planning to offer breakfast on its own up until being approached by Christians Who Care. “They wanted to continue to serve breakfast (after Timothy’s closed) but needed a place,” Sullivan said. “It was at that time that we collaborated to serve breakfast together. Our location is a prime site to serve those in need of a hot meal. We have been a constant meal site since November of 2007.”
Sullivan said a meeting was held before the breakfast partnership began to discuss details and how the two organizations would work together. “Christians Who Care ministry was told from the beginning that we would not be able to have devotionals during our meal services due to our grant seeking and due to the timing of serving both a breakfast and a lunch at the Café.”
There will be no break from breakfast at Café on Vine. “We’re going to forge ahead, just as we would have if we hadn’t had their participation in the beginning,” Sullivan said. On average, Café on Vine serves 80 guests for breakfast and 135 for lunch. Whether the new breakfast site at Cedar Memorial Church impacts the café’s numbers remains to be seen. Sullivan believes the need still exists.
Breakfast is served at Café on Vine from 7-7:45 a.m. weekdays, but volunteers are needed to work from 6:30 a.m. to 8 a.m. She has enough volunteers on Wednesdays and Thursdays but could use more on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Jobs include food prep, setting tables, serving food, mingling with guests and cleanup. To volunteer, call Café on Vine between 5:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays at (563) 324-4472.