Battleplans for 2018
We’re well into 2018 now and powering forwards with our mission to support the most disadvantaged members of our community.
This year we’re maintaining our tried and true programs we’ve been running for years such as the barista & hospitality training, acute crisis care and what we’re now calling TIP (the Transformative Intervention Program… which is working with the most disadvantaged members of the community suffering from chronic problems like addiction, crime, homelessness, crime, unemployability, etc).
Michael Seabrook has just started working with us full time this week. Yesterday we submitted a grant application to get funds to purchase another cafe. One of our BHAG’s (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) is to open CFA2. The Valley cafe is breaking even now and the only way to grow is to replicate. It took a while to get settled after getting knocked around so intensely and unexpectedly last year. The whole plan hasn’t changed much.
So what’s new. I’ve been using my home for years now as a halfway house to help the guys we support. I was hoping it would naturally outgrow this and develop. We tried fundraising to help these guys but it seems people are reluctant to help men who are homeless/addicts/ex cons/etc. I still think this is the most important thing we do. It’s the most expensive cost to the government, it’s the most emotionally costly to the victims in our community, not many organisations want to tackle this and it’s something we’re good at. Just we’ve got no money to do it…
The only way this can work sustainably long term is if we get a house. Liberty Home. Somewhere safe in a good community but strategically positioned. I’ve discussed the idea with the police and it’d be necessary to work closely with them. You’ve all heard me talk about for years how important relationships are and the idea of the “sevens” program. Environment is such a massive factor for successful transformation. You can introduce an addict to 7 healthy members of the community but if he’s going back to sleep at a crack house it’s just too easy to relapse. It’s ended up just being a whole lot of work for me to manage it all-with little cash and support.
Moving forwards the most important factor to make this all work and facilitate all this is to employ a really skilled “community chaplain”. Which is the same as our plan has been for years now. To provide 7 day support (which is what is necessary) it is $87,442.44 p.a. This gets us 1 full time worker and another part time worker. The house itself is not expensive. Last year to support one of the guys we registered with Centrelink so rent assistance could be paid straight to us for his housing. We didn’t end up using it but it’s in place and an easy process. It’d only cost about $10k per annum to cover the deficit. We could possibly get 1 to 3 guys in one house at a time… maybe. It would really depend on the individuals, their personalities and how far along they’ve developed and learned to manage their behaviours. There’ll be a shortfall we’d need to cover.
This strategy is a proven, long game, comprehensive, sure fire way of seeing lives transformed. With the home, the support workers and miscellaneous costs e.g. job training etc it’s $100k p.a. We know we can do this because we’ve been doing it for years now. We just need to source the funding somehow. We really need corporate sponsorship to make this work. If you or your company wants to contribute towards this specifically please get in touch.
I’ve stopped doing most of the direct support work personally and I’m not using my home as a halfway house anymore. I’m going to personally continue working with only one of the ex drug dealers in the community. Many of you would have heard Chris’ story of transformation. We speak regularly all over Brisbane to share his story and he always gets the crowd crying. Chris is a long way through his journey and on several levels I believe it’s important to continue to empower him. I believe his life and story will help tens of thousands and so it’s worth every hour of my investment into him.
We’ve decided to pursue some traditional strategies to support our community. Last December we announced the birth of Liberty Enterprises. We are in the middle of transferring the charitable organisation over to that entity name and Cup From Above Cafe will be a social enterprise program of Liberty Enterprises Australia Limited. In the next 90 days we plan to launch “Liberty Community Care” which, among other things, will be providing support for people with a disability. We believe we can provide some exceptional community access support by linking in with our existing programs such as feeding the chickens with our Liberty Farm project or baking muffins at the cafe etc. I’ve been working with people with a disability since 2002. I personally love the work and this field but more than that I think as an organisation we can offer something really fresh, innovative in a really diverse but warm and friendly environment. It’s a win for everyone. So we’re going to pursue this.
More than that we’re looking at several fee for service options to link in with other organisations. Whereby another organisation with funding for clients could pay our organisation to use the cafe/s, or provide a tailored coffee course for clients with complex needs.
That’s it for 2018. If you want more details on any of this we have a 22 page 6310 word Strategic Plan to cover the next 10 years with all the details! I’ll be putting that up on the website soon too.
For 5 and a half years we’ve been totally reliant on our members, a couple of businesses and some small churches throwing us a bit of cash here and there. It’s simply miraculous we’ve lasted this long with no real core funding. I can’t find the words to say how appreciative I am for all of our members and your continued support through all the difficulties we’ve been through. The consistent heartbeat of your generosity and faith in our mission has sustained us the darkest seasons. Thank you.
Writing this I was thinking about the first time I heard the name Cup From Above and it’s allusion to a brew that tasted heavenly. I liked because it was quirky and catchy enough to simply be about great coffee. But I also liked that it held within it a mystery. Probably only someone like me would think of it. But to the me the name also begged the question what does a cafe from above look like and what would it serve? I’m curious to see how far this question will take us this year in 2018 and for the decade ahead.
Thanks for journeying with us another year. Love you all.
Belonging, Encouragement, Christmas & Skjaldborg
We all want to belong. We all want to be part of something bigger than ourselves. Something beautiful, innocent, sacrificial, new. Something we contribute to that inexplicably and significantly benefits someone that could never in anyway benefit us. This flies in the face of today’s hyper consumerist culture where the goal is accumulation and the capitalist way of life has a monopoly. A culture that demands we all live exclusively to meet our individual needs before all else. Despite our mercenary zeitgeist I believe it’s hardwired deep inside us to be a part of something greater.
From the outset at Cup From Above we found people with a range of issues and barriers coming for assistance. We just did what we could to help each one the best we could each day. I think it’s better to look at it that they came to join and then in turn they helped one another. If you’ve heard me speak you’ve probably heard me talk about community. Community comes from a latin word “munio” which meant to “build up, to fortify and strengthen”. In a healthy community I believe we are wired to connect and build each other up. I’ve come to believe we actually need each other. We need community. It’s not just a nice accessory. It’s like dieting and exercise. If it’s not a part of your life then you will literally get sick.
In our community at Cup From Above we had a outrageously broad ‘diversity of adversity’. I have come to believe this is a better way approach to community work. We didn’t want to be a disability service or a mental health service or service for ex cons, which is a very white/western/modern approach. That’s not how life works. We just wanted to be a people service. A connection service. So people came here, who were disconnected, to connect. When you have a mix of adversity there’s a natural blend of complimentary strengths and weaknesses which organically creates a culture of interconnected support. The homeless guy looks at the person with a disability and is compelled to feel grateful for what he has and will automatically support him however he can. The person with a disability working alongside a refugee or an ex con is compelled to feel grateful for the blessings they have and will naturally support them. One individual is strong where the other is weak but together they are all strong. This is the wild, messy and yet beautiful culture we’ve had here at Cup From Above over the years.
As you can imagine though with so many people struggling with such extreme issues it’s been difficult to always maintain a positive and therapeutic culture of support. Us Aussies aren’t good at communicating feelings. It’s definitely not natural in our culture to proactively encourage one another even in a healthy community let alone one filled with struggling individuals. That same Latin word “munio” is also the same root for the word communication. A community was always birthed through communication. One day a couple of years ago a young member of our team with a disability was being a encouraged by another member of the team but misconstrued it as an insult, burst into tears and ran away. The misunderstanding was explained easily enough and the drama was reconciled within hours but this event led me to question our culture. We needed some way of regularly communicating encouragement to each other that was authentic and simple…
That night I was randomly reading an article on ancient military tactics. I learned that the Greek army was made up of ordinary citizens known as “Hoplites”. They each had a set of weapons and armour including a shield known as the “Aspis”. Going into battle they had a structured formation which they had practised before hand called the “phalanx”. The aspis shield was designed to cover 2/3 of the soldiers body and 1/3 of the soldier to his left. As they formed together they would create a formidable interlocking wall which was nearly impenetrable. The historian who authored the article made a point of highlighting the courage and determination necessary to maintain the wall in the heat of battle and noted as long as they held the interconnected shields they were safe together. This strategy of interlocking shields was independently developed by armies all over the planet including the vikings who called their version of a phalanx the “Skjaldborg”.
We don’t engage in combat like that these days but it got me thinking how any of this could relate to us today. In ancient times your community was everything. When you went to battle you went together and they literally had your back or you were dead. We don’t have to defend ourselves from attacking marauders or neighbouring states today. But we do have real enemies like crystal meth, job interviews, divorces, exams, car accidents and other tragedies. There are still real threats that we all have to face. We shouldn’t be facing these battles alone. Our ancestors who fought alone died alone. The ones who survived are those who fought together side by side in the Skjaldborg. There’s something we can learn from this.
The next day at Cup From Above we began a ritual that we call “Skjaldborg”. We picked that specific word just because it was cooler than hoplite or phalanx. In the Skjaldborg your shield covered the soldier to your left. The soldier to the left entrusted her life with the comrade to her right. She was completely reliant to protect her in the battle just the same as her shield would protect the person to her left. We look at this ancient military strategy as an analogy for how to live today. In our ritual we each take a turn to encourage the person to our left. We say what we appreciate about them. We point out great things we noticed they did that week. Personal characteristics which make them great people to work with. Skills they have developed. Even unique idiosyncrasies that define them as an individual. Anything worth mentioning to encourage and express gratitude for them as an individual. The ritual means we purposefully and regularly create a time to build up, fortify and strengthen each and every one of us together. If WHAT a community is really a group of people who are “built up, fortified and strengthened” together. Then “Skjaldborg” is HOW we build community. It’s a ritual we use at Cup From Above to create community and make sure everyone knows they belong. After every encouragement we all call out skjaldborg and stamp our coffee cups repeatedly and loudly on the table like a pack of vikings. It adds to the spirit of the occasion.
When a team member has completed their training as a barista and they’re going for that job. They’re not going into that interview alone. They have the full confidence of their fellow warriors in that interview room with them. They know if they don’t get the job they will be supported afterwards. More than that they are confident in their ability because they’ve trained hard for the role. The constantly repeated words of encouragement from their comrades echoing in their heart. They know they belong. They want the job but they don’t need it to feel good about themselves. When life brings about other tragedies they are better prepared but they know they can rely on the team to support them through the crisis.
Skaldborg is our little ritual here at Cup From Above. It’s my favourite thing we do here and I personally really look forward to it each and every time. I wanted to share this inside secret of ours with you all and of course you’re welcome to use it in your organisation if you’d like. I also wanted to take this opportunity to say it’s coming up to Christmas which for most people is a great time of year to celebrate with your family and community. I believe Christmas is just another type of Skjaldborg. It’s another ritual built for the same purpose of building relationships in a community. It’s not actually the date Jesus was born. Most Christians will say it’s about celebrating the birth of Christ but I don’t think so. But the ritual does celebrate what Jesus taught. Whether you categorise him a myth, man, messenger, messiah or almighty I believe we all still celebrate Christmas today because of what Christmas does. It brings us together and, for the most part, we are built up, fortified and strengthened by celebrating Christmas together. More than that though Jesus was the one who said, “…But when you host a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind…” – Book of Luke Chapter 14. For those of you who are well connected to a loving family and a good community it won’t be obvious but you will have some, probably consciously elusive until now, ritual that demonstrates and communicates that you and others belong. Most rituals aren’t as obvious and deliberate as our Skjaldborg but you might have something more subtle and Australian like an annual cricket game, bon bons, Grandma’s roast chicken, beer n barbie. If you think about it there’ll be something you and yours do. I believe the true meaning of Christmas is more than just celebrating with those who we’re comfortable with. Certainly if you belong to the Christian faith then Christmas is all about including people that are poor, marginalised and disconnected. I think we all want to really belong and be part of something authentic and greater. This is the purest way I’ve discovered so far to achieve this. So much of charity today is relation-less, love-less disconnected donation of mere things. Same as Christmas. If you really want to give please open up your home and your community and include those who are disconnected. Really communicate, really encourage, really connect.
I hope you all have a great Christmas this year. I hope that you each have your very own skjaldborg and that you find yourself somewhere that you really belong.Read More
Cup From Above Christmas Care 17
Christmas is coming up quickly and we’re working hard so we can support the most struggling members of our community once again. This year we’ll be better than ever. We’ll be giving away free coffees from the cafe from 7am Christmas morning, we’ll be delivering hampers and visiting disconnected & disadvantaged members of our community and like last year we’ve got a chef putting on a banquet for the homeless and other members of our community doing it tough. More than that this year we’ll be visiting the hospital and dropping off toys to the sick kids who are too unwell to be home with their families.
To make it really great and connect with all the people who really need our support this Christmas we need your help. Here’s how…
2. Time! We need people to volunteer in these days leading up to Christmas and on Christmas Day. If you would like to do this please get in touch with our Christmas Care coordinator Holly via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or join the facebook organising group here.
3. Stuff. If you would like to donate items for the hampers here’s a sample list of what we’ll be giving away…
Milk 1L Long Life, Pretzels, Fruit Mince Pies, Custard, Corn Chips, Salsa, Tim Tams, Christmas Pudding, Candy Canes, Tinned Fruit, Soup (Tin/Cuppa), French Bread Stick, Bottle of Soft Drink, Pasta, Pasta Sauce, Bon Bons.
You can drop these items to the cafe this week inside normal business hours.
4. Coffee. We’ll be giving away a bunch of coffees Christmas morning so if you would like to purchase some Christmas “Suspended Coffees” (like the old days) we’d hugely appreciate it! Here’s the link http://cupfromabove.com.au/product/suspendedcoffee/
Thanks again for all your support guys. We couldn’t do what we do without your support. We hope you all have a truly blessed Christmas this year!
Michael Seabrook & Grandpa’s Garden
About four years ago, Michael, a young guy working in retail in Aspley, happened to stroll past Cup From Above and decided to grab a coffee and check it out. His passion for people and giving back to the community instantly clicked with our mission, and Michael soon began volunteering. He tried his hand at being a barista, only to discover that boiling water was about his limit. But Michael is a big fan of gardening, driven by his love of eating good healthy food (and a strong dislike of spending lots of money on groceries!), so he took his hobby and teamed up with Adam to create a little collaborative urban farm project called Grandpa’s Garden.
Michael planned and set up a large vegie patch out the back of the café, spreading into the charity house garden. He continues to educate volunteers of all ages on how to sow seeds and seedlings, and maintain and water the plants (news to me that there’s a right and wrong way to watering – sorry to all my withering plants at home). At Grandpa’s Garden, people are taught valuable skills that they then take back into their own homes and communities.
Currently the garden is producing eggplant, tomatoes, parsley, lemongrass and a sneaky passion fruit vine. In a beautiful symbiotic process, the fresh, high quality produce is used in the café and the discarded coffee grounds get composted back onto the garden. As it continues to thrive, surplus veges are given to those in need in the community.
Michael is an ideas man and he hasn’t stopped there. A new project is about to be launched, one that gives people a people a taste at home of what they’re eating at the café. Watch this space…
Article by Suz FaulknerRead More
We’d like to see if anyone has a small room or somewhere can use for an office.
As you can see in the photos we don’t need a big space. Just 2 desks, 2 chairs, a filing cabinet, a printer and a computer.
We’d need access to it all throughout the week. We have an administration night on Tuesdays where a bunch of volunteers from different professions get together to help on our projects. We have volunteers doing their placement from various universities and other organisations who would be there.
It ideally needs to be somewhere in the triangle between Aspley, the Valley & Boondall.
If you have a space we could use for this we would hugely appreciate it. We cannot afford to pay any rent. We’re hoping someone out there simply has the spare space we could use. It doesn’t have to be permanent but for at least 3 months would be greatly appreciated.
If you have some space available for us to use please email email@example.com. Thank you!
Help a young man get set free this Christmas
Many of you would have seen our post from the 24th August about the young man we’ve been supporting who was unexpectedly sent off to prison. Next week we’re going to the Supreme Court to re-apply to get him out on bail.
I’ve been reluctant to share this publicly for obvious reasons but we really need your help.
We have grown to know Ad well. He was introduced to hard drugs at an early age before most of us Australians even know what they are. This was a result of being brought up in a really destructive culture.
While struggling with an addiction to heroin as an adolescent and surrounded with a destructive environment he made a bunch of really bad choices and ended up in juvey and then prison.
I’ve gone over all the old charges with his lawyer and I’ve chatted to Ad at length about his past, his choices and his plans for the future. He’s remorseful for his past choices and has worked hard to really change.
Nat Carse from Krosswerdz connected with him several years ago in prison. Nat and his team run church services in prison. When they met, Ad was hungry for change and started attending. He was looking for a positive role model to guide him and his choices moving forwards.
Ad voluntarily detoxed off of all illicit drugs and methadone. It’s hard to explain how difficult it is to do this but it’s impressive. If you take into account his situation… it’s beyond impressive. It’s miraculous. It’s inspiring. The week he got arrested he was offered free meth and he said no. It takes real character to say no when there’s peer pressure from those you love to simply join in with something you know will make you feel better. He doesn’t even know I know this but I found out. It’s easy to say one thing to impress someone and then behave differently when “noone is watching”. This is one of the reasons why I’m supporting him now.
Nat Carse started a lawn mowing program that Cup From Above is collaborating with to create real paid work for Ad. We didn’t make it easy for him. To get to his job on time he’d have to wake up at 5am to catch several buses and trains. He did this without fail. Something I’ve rarely seen over the years in this work. He also showed promise as a cafe worker, he’s young enough, he has people skills. So we had just started to train him in the cafe too. He could also easily get a job in a cafe which is another option for his future.
One of the reasons I’m supporting Ad is that he has already started showing leadership qualities. He’s not a sheep. He’s started making those difficult values based decisions. I saw him challenge and encourage some of the crew here at Cup From Above in their choices. I’ve seen him with his older mentors that he’s connected with asking powerful questions about life and how to grow, how to deal with difficult situations.
The authorities have unfortunately looked at his past, the terrible choices he made while he was using heroin and assumed the worst of what happened in August. I can’t share too many details publicly. What he did that night was actually courageous. It was difficult, most people would have cowered away, he took a risk to step in and help a woman who was being beaten and then removed himself from the situation as quickly as possible to defuse an increase in violence. He then came to me and Nat to debrief about what happened. His conscience was clear. We went straight to the police to be transparent. I sat next to him as he explained to them what happened.
We need to celebrate and champion men like this. We need to exemplify him not punish him. There’s 1.3 million Australians out there who are currently using Crystal Meth. We need men like Ad to help lead the exodus out of addiction. If I do nothing, if we do nothing, he’s just gonna be sitting in a cell. It costs us, the taxpayer $116 000 every year to have him in that cell. Today we can choose to pay for him to stay in prison rotting away or we can pay a small amount to try and see him set free. I’m fighting so damn hard for this kid because I think he’s got something. I think if we set him free he’s gonna see other people set free. We’ve got a great team to support him. We’re gonna continue training, guiding and empowering him. We’ve got a job for him waiting. We’ve got a safe home for him to stay in. We just need to act now.
We’ve got a great legal team together. A couple of barristers have heard his story and put up their hand to help for free. William Sun, Anna & Matt; the wonderful team at Sun & Co Lawyers have worked really hard on this. It’s impressive. They’ve been meticulous going through every detail. They’ve visited Addison in prison. They’ve interviewed all his mentors who know Addison well and have been journeying with him to really get an understanding of who is and defend him accurately and thoroughly before the court. They’re not getting a cent for this yet they’ve gone above and beyond to help ensure the best possible outcome for this man’s future. To pay for this respected and proficient legal team it’d be in excess of $10,000 and they’re doing it because they believe in him the same as I do.
With his poor history it seems likely we’ll need to present some funds for him to get out on bail as surety for good behaviour until the court case. We’d like to offer $10,000 if the magistrate deems necessary.
We’d like to ask you to donate a small amount to help us reach this amount so we can see him set free before Christmas.
Name: Cup Aspley Ltd
All donations over $2 are tax deductible and if you send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the form here with the details of your transaction we will send you a tax deductible receipt.
The thought of him sitting in a cell this christmas is so painful, ridiculous and unnecessary. Our legal team is highly motivated to make all this happen and the plan is to have this resolved before Christmas.
Now there’s several details to all this which I have to explain…
If we’re successful in getting him out on bail and with the actual court case the bail money is surety for good behaviour. If the bail money is released upon a successful outcome with his court case we’ll use it for developing the lawn mowing project (Liberty Garden Care & Krosswerdz Care) to get much needed equipment and other support which will help Ad get and sustain more work upon release. We believe in “teaching a man to fish” rather than just giving fish. This program also helps other people like Ad. So the love will spread even further.
In the event Ad was released on bail and did reoffend the bail money would be forfeited. I believe in my heart that he wouldn’t reoffend. We’ve been proactive in preparing to ensure he’s well supported through this tenuous period.
There’s also the possibility our legal team would be unsuccessful and the magistrate could rule that he is not eligible for bail and/or we could lose the court case. This would be devastating however it is a possibility we need to think about. In this case we would invest the funds into that same program to help the other young men in similar situations we’re supporting to turn their lives around and get work.
Thank you everyone for helping us supporting men like Ad and for caring about those who downtrodden and forgotten.
CEO & Founder of Cup From Above
Update on Cup From Above June 2017
Cup From Above has been Resurrected!
After a short homeless hiatus Cup From Above v2.0 will continue to serve the finest coffee from 6am Monday, 5th June!
There’s been a few changes but the core of our mission is still the same. We’ll be selling great coffee to make cash and use that cash to help people in need. We’ll be training people up how to become great baristas and help them find work, we’ll be helping people in emergency crisis situations, and we’ll be journeying with some of the most disadvantaged members of our community for the long haul to see them flourishing.
We’d like to say a huge thankyou to Trent Meade and the team at Revelry Entertainment who own and run the popular Valley club called “The GPO”. Named because it used to be the Post Office many years ago. They have warmly welcomed us into their great venue placed in the heart of Fortitude Valley.
The word fortitude means “courage through adversity” so Fortitude Valley kinda means “courage through valley”. Which seems to suit us well. Unfortunately there is no parking at the new site. For a detailed map showing exactly where we are and the best places to park in the Valley please visit the map on our website here.
We took a short break from making coffee which gave us the opportunity to increase our efforts on our charitable objectives.
We now have 3x “Sevens” champion peer support groups helping some of the most disadvantaged members of our community.
Australia’s greatest social crisis right now is probably the pandemic of Crystal Meth addiction. The answer is complex and we are focussing and refining our strategies around targeting the very core of this issue.
The effects of addiction are simply devastating but there is nothing more precious and beautiful than seeing someone crippled with addiction reconciled with their partners and children. The text message saying thank you on their first day back at work. Dropping them off at home after feeding them when they were living on the streets. That’s why we do this.
THE YEAR AHEAD:
Our aim is still to raise $87,500 so that we can provide 60 hours per week of continuous support to see the most difficult members of our community and see them liberated from the vice of addiction and the horrific behaviour that comes with it. We need a full time professional and a part time support worker to manage the “Sevens” peer support groups. We’ve found this to be the most thorough, inexpensive, authentic strategy to see people restored. We need your support to continue this vital work. You can donate $30 per week which guarantees 1 hour paid work towards helping (currently sitting at 14.5 hours pledged). It’s the end of the financial year so if you would like to make a one off donation towards this goal it would hugely appreciated.
We’ve teamed up with Nat Carse from Village Church and Chris Rahilly from Northside Yard and Garden Maintenance to trial a lawn mowing program to champion some blokes in our community who need some work to get back on track.
The best way you can support this for now is by calling Chris on 0404 479 585 if you need any yard work done.
Thanks to all the original members who have recently purchased their annual renewal and we’d like to welcome on board all the new members.
It’s thanks to your consistent support that has enables us to help transform lives.
We currently have 301 members. You can sign up in store from Monday or via the link here.
Charity HQ Search Continues…
We are continuing to search for a premises to officially base the charity out of in or near Aspley. It could potentially be anywhere on the Northside of Brisbane but it seems right to stay here. The charity house, formerly located behind the old cafe is still being used to store furniture for people in crisis, our administration work is being done from there. More than that we have continued supporting people from the house every day. In the last month we’ve had 3 men in various extreme crisis situations stay at the charity house. This is a vital need we must find a long term solution for.
5th Birthday & Opening Celebration
It’s hard to believe that the 18th June 2017 will be our 5th Birthday. We’ll be unexpectedly celebrating this one in our new venue which seems fitting to make this the official opening ceremony. Details on facebook here. This event is for members only.
CEO Adam James & Chris Rahilly were honoured to speak with some of the great young men and women at Deception Bay High. It’s so important to encourage, educate and motivate the vulnerable younger members of our community.Read More
Times They Are A-changin
It’s my deepest regret to let you all know that after nearly 5 years our cafe here in Aspley is closing down. We had intended to stay here for at least the next 6 years especially after investing in building our kitchen at the end of last year. The landlords have been pretty nasty about it. However I believe it’s right for us to move forwards with an improved mission and strategic plan.
I can’t describe how much it hurt when I found out a couple of weeks ago. So much of my life has been invested into this site. I have to admit I considered that this might be the end of the road for us. But then I was reminded of something. I sat out the back in the garden area and reflected over our journey together. I can remember placing every stone in the wall and the person who helped build it with me and the conversations that brought a bit of healing. One stone I remember talking with a man who’d just got out of prison after 10 years and couldn’t resolve forgiving himself for what he did. By the end of that day building that bit of the wall with me Jason finally received forgiveness for the first time in his life and was ready to move forwards with his life. Every paver, every garden, every painted picture has a story here. What I was reminded of is that even on those long days when we were building this place we never thought we were building a great cafe. We were repairing relationships. We were building men. On a spiritual level I think Cup From Above is more than a cafe. I believe it’s an orphanage. It’s been a home for the lost and who just needed somewhere safe to escape to and be comforted, restored, encouraged, redirected, educated and loved. This chapter, at this geographical, site has come to an end but WE WILL CONTINUE WITH THIS MISSION. We’re losing this building but we’re taking the wisdom we’ve learnt together with us.
From the first day of opening Cup From Above I literally asked myself what would a cafe in heaven look like? That’s been my overarching motivation and philosophy for everything we’ve ever done here. This is how it played out in my mind… In heaven there’s no such thing as a disability. I reckon everyone is able enough to achieve their purpose in life. So we trained people with disabilities as best as they were capable how to make heavenly coffee and get them authentic jobs. In heaven people don’t go hungry. So we fed everyone who came in who was hungry. In heaven everyone is loved and valued. So we gave everyone who couldn’t afford a coffee one for free and spent time with them. In heaven there’s no crime. So we taught criminals their true worth, restored them and empowered them with valuable employable skills. In heaven fathers don’t die of heart disease when their kids are young. So we started a garden to grow nutritious food and cook it up tasty and give it to the sick, poor & homeless. In heaven no one is lonely from mental health problems. So we built interconnected life affirming relationships around those who were struggling with poor mental health.
Even though this place has been largely inspired and driven by my christian faith I never wanted this to be just another ‘church cafe’. I’ve purposed to keep it a truly diverse community cafe for everyone in this geographical community and we’ve deliberately embraced satanists, atheists, agnostics and buddhists as equal members here. We’ve connected with both sides and every level of politics to collectively work together to help those in most need in our community. All this has been complex at times. But diversity is beautiful, it’s real and it’s right. We’re better together.
I’m proud to say we’ve nearly completed our new 10 year strategic plan and God it’s beautiful. It makes so much more sense. It’ll be formally released in the next couple of weeks. To give you a snapshot for now we’re calling it Operation: Robin Hood. The main issue here at Aspley has been having dangerous people receiving therapeutic support while trying to run a profitable cafe. It just doesn’t work. In the 60 months of being here only 1 of them was commercially profitable. 59 months we LOST money. It’s okay because we used the cafe to help people and the cost to benefit ratio was definitely worthwhile when you look at the incredible outcomes we were able to achieve by doing this. However this is not sustainable, safe, nor is it the optimal way to execute our mission. I’ve built a great new team to guide us and our plan is to find a new cafe site in an affluent area of Brisbane. Run it as a great profitable hospitality business, have only one “hospitality intern” at a time, and use the profits to help those who are really struggling. “Take from the rich and give to the poor”. We did a thorough analysis of what we’ve done well and what we’ve done really bad over the last 5 years. We’re good at chronic support. We good at taking someone who is using hard drugs, engaging in criminal activity, in and out of prison, homelessness and broken relationships, who is ready for change and lead and guide them through to sobriety, empower them with employable skills and a real career, encouraging them and championing them, teaching them interpersonal skills so they can restore broken relationships and build new healthy ones and not just get housing but a home to build a life in. We’ve done this well and we’ll keep doing this for Brisbane’s forgotten and downtrodden. We’ll keep dropping off hampers and healthy nutritious food to pregnant women facing homelessness and single dads who are struggling to make ends meet. We’re good at this. We’re gonna continue training people with barriers to employment how to make great coffee and help them secure jobs. We’re good at this. We love coffee and people. We’ve got a temporary solution to continue doing this uninterrupted while we don’t have a cafe.
Our charitable support will actually increase after the closure of our Aspley cafe. This is a crazy paradox but it’s true. But right now it actually costs money to have the cafe and it takes up sooooo much time. It just means until we reopen a new profitable cafe there won’t be an easy way to engage with us like there has been at the cafe. We’ll keep posting up about the great stories of supporting people online (that we’re only able to do because you support us). The charity will continue to run from our office in Aspley 6 days a week. The new cafe will be geographically separate from most of our charitable activities. Therefore we won’t have any of the danger concerns of being a pseudo drop in centre. People won’t be able to access help via the cafe directly.
We’re looking for a new cafe site. We’re going to take our time to carefully assess the next pilot site. If you know of a potentially great site please email it through to email@example.com. We have formed a committee of highly successful people in the hospitality industry to thoroughly assess the new site(s) to ensure financial viability and ongoing success.
We will need to fundraise to open the new cafe. Fortunately we get to keep all the equipment we purchased from our fundraising efforts only 6 months ago. It’s unlikely to fit in the new site so we’ll have to sell some equipment and buy some new items. There’s a lot of other setup costs. I estimate we will need at least $20,000 for the new site. If you would like to donate towards this it would be greatly appreciated. You can via the link here. If it’s specifically for this new venture please use the description “NEWCFACAFE” so we know to allocate it towards this specifically.
We’ll be holding a little “farewell funeral & wake” at the cafe. Date TBA but we’ll announce it soon. The current plan is to close the doors on Saturday, 29th April. So many lives have been touched here and we wanted some way to commemorate the journey. We have this beautiful orange journal (donated by our lovely new neighbours Bookbinders). Please come in and leave a message sharing your greatest memory here at Cup From Above Aspley. If we’ve contributed to your life and journey we’d love it if you shared that in the book.
I am so honoured to have journeyed with you all here. I have so many great new friendships that have been forged and old ones bolstered on this 5 year adventure. You have all taught me so much and I’m so grateful to everyone who has donated time, money, blood, sweat or tears to this cause. I love this community of Aspley. Rich even with all it’s blemishes and colour. I didn’t actually think any of this would actually be possible, 6 years ago it was merely a dubious dream, but you’ve all proven to me over these years that the impossible is possible. I plan to take this ‘hope against hope’ you’ve demonstrated me on to the next phase of our journey.
Thank you everyone, love you all.
Supporting Belinda & Clint
Belinda & Clint’s home burnt down here in Aspley last night. They lost a lot of their personal belongings. Worst of all they lost their family pets. They are okay, no people were physically injured apart from a bit of smoke inhalation and the shock of losing their home.
We’re doing a collection to help them get back on track. If you would like to donate towards helping them you can wire it through to…
Name: Cup Aspley Limited
Please use the transaction description: home4bnc
They’re gonna need some furniture which we have some stuff in storage to donate. The biggest problem right now is somewhere to live. If someone knows of a temporary living situation for them that would be great. Be good to have a few options. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Either way they’re gonna need help with moving house and purchasing items. It’d be great if we could get together at least $2000 to make this easy for them to move house and get them set up in their new home.Read More
The Northside Chronicle Champions Tucker Tokens!
Huge thanks to Andrea MacLeod for doing a story on our Tucker Token idea so we can spread the love outside of Cup From Above.
All you need to do is ask your local cafe if they do Tucker Tokens and offer to buy one for someone in need for them to give away. Thanks for helping people less fortunate than yourself.
Here’s the article…