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Portable Cafe Helps California Church Employ Youth, Offer Community Coffee

Portable Cafe Helps California Church Employ Youth
Wheel House Cafe is at Christ Church of Davis in Davis, Calif.

Christ Church of Davis, a Christian Reformed congregation in Davis, Calif., recently has launched Wheel House Cafe, a ministry with a twofold vision. Eric Dirksen, the church’s pastor, said, “The idea is fairly simple: Provide for the common good of our neighborhood through good coffee, good connections, as well as teaching young people employable skills along the way.”

Dirksen said the church is next to a business park and across the street from the largest high school in the area. He sees the area as underserved when it comes to good coffee.

Rebecca Detrick, a member of Christ Church and self-described coffee lover, is running the ministry. She raised start-up funds for the coffee cart through an online crowd-funding campaign.

“Wheel House currently runs three to four days a week, 7 a.m.-1:30 (p.m.), and hours will extend as employees are hired and sales happen,” Detrick said. The goal is for the business to be self-sufficient while providing meaningful employment to young people. The congregation has been very supportive of the venture so far, with many people turning out for the initial opening in mid-February.

The cafe operates from the church’s covered front doorway. When not operating, the cafe is currently being stored in the foyer of the church, where Detrick said church members have not been able to gather since last March, due to indoor closures to prevent person-to-person spread of COVID-19. Plans are in the works to build a new shed on the property, Detrick said, and the church council has agreed it will have room to store the cart there long term.

Detrick, who is also an English teacher, requested that teens apply for work with a resume and cover letter and “because I had so many look at me with crazy blank stares,” she offered a resume- and cover letter-writing workshop. “They came to the workshop knowing that I could not hire them all, but also knowing that it would help apply elsewhere, as well,” she said.

She hopes to hire one to two staff members “in the next couple of weeks and extend the cafe hours later into the day with their help.”

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