What they do …
6. Suspended Coffees
This blog post is slightly different from previous posts in this category. Today you can read about an organization called Suspended Coffees. I interviewed Shannon about their concept and how we can turn it into a tiny step that we can all take.
For those of you who don’t know the term ‘suspended coffee’: a suspended coffee is a coffee you buy for someone else in advance. Anybody who can’t afford a coffee, can ask for a suspended coffee at the counter and basically get one for free. As you might understand, it’s not just about that coffee, but about the act of kindness.
I’ve been following Suspended Coffees for a couple years now and I’m still really enthusiastic about this concept. It’s a shame it’s not really a big thing in The Netherlands and Canada yet, so with this post I hope to inspire some Dutchies to push this at their local coffee place, which I hope to do too, here in Kelowna.
“Suspended Coffees, interview with Shannon
How would you describe Suspended Coffees in one sentence?
‘Simply this: Suspended Coffees is about inspiring kindness in others.’
Deep down we all want to be able to make a difference, and it can start with something as simple as a cup of coffee.
What’s the main strength of this concept?
‘The main strength of the actual concept itself is the fact that this is community funded, and everyone really wants to be able to help. Deep down we all want to be able to make a difference, and it can start with something as simple as a cup of coffee. That one simple cup of coffee can let someone know that they matter. Someone cared about them. That simple action of suspending a coffee can restore dignity and faith in humanity when it’s most needed.’
What’s your favorite ‘Suspended Coffees’-story so far?
‘We’ve heard so many amazing stories that it’s difficult to pick just one. We hear from people all around the globe, and they’re sharing their hearts with us. We’ve heard from countless people telling us we’ve given them hope, and we’ve given them the strength to get up one more day and to just breathe. We’ve been on so many journeys with people, through kidney dialysis, cancer treatments, depression, homelessness, and so much more. It’s truly a privilege to be a part of that, and to restore faith in humanity when all seems lost at times. We also hear from people who enjoy coming to us for their daily dose of happiness, and for a quick “pick me up”.
That being said, I believe I’d have to say that my favorite story is that of our founder. John Sweeney has been an incredible source of strength for all of his volunteers, and for so many of our supporters. He spent most of his formative years being bullied and beaten by teachers and students alike. He even contemplated suicide on more than one occasion.
He was told he’d never amount to anything and that he wasn’t smart enough to be anything other than a manual laborer. He was pushed to become a plumber by a guidance counselor, flooding many houses in the process. He held a few other jobs, but none truly made him happy or filled him up. It wasn’t until he read about the tradition of a suspended coffee that he felt fulfilled.
After reading about the tradition, John immediately felt something pulling at him. He knew in his heart that he’d found his “why”. So, he set about creating a Facebook page, hoping to have a few friends and family “like” the page, and maybe have a few local cafes on board. Three years later, we now have 25 incredible volunteers, over 2,000 supporting cafes from all around the world, and over 300,000 followers across all social media. If it wasn’t for John’s experiences (good and bad), his desire to truly help others so they never felt alone, and his incredibly kind and generous heart, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. John’s vision and dreams have absolutely saved lives, including his, and most likely mine.’
What can we as individual do to help?
‘Ask your local cafes if they’ve joined us yet. If not, tell them about us. Tell them about the concept. Encourage them to participate. It costs them nothing, but it means everything!’”