Community and coffee work hand–in–hand

Published 10:22 am Thursday, August 7, 2008

Everyone’s heard of the 600 or more Starbucks closing around the country. I wondered about the coffee shop in Inverness on busy Highway 280, and recently arrived mid-morning, mid-week, expecting folks to either be at work or on a golf course.

To my surprise, cars lined up at the drive-through window, several outdoor tables held five or more people and another line inside flowed around the counter. People filled the space lounging, reading newspapers, chatting or working on laptops.

“Our business isn’t closing,” the staff reported.

I’m glad.

No, I’m not addicted to high–octane caffeine. But Starbucks does offer fruit smoothies, tea, soft drinks, water and good old–fashioned fellowship, the kind we once found in country stores and on front porches.

One can find the most interesting people in a coffee shop. This time, my visit to Starbucks landed me right in the middle of a group of Shelby County teens and Doug Clarke, local director for Child Evangelism Fellowship, on their way to a service project. How enthused, excited even, they were as they told about each one’s unique talents — drama or vocal — used for the purpose of bringing the Good News to children. These teenagers volunteer their time to teach non–denominational Bible lessons. Many of America’s children live in at-risk home situations. They need a sense of life’s meaning, purpose and hope for a better future. The Child Evangelism Fellowship program instills those Christian values.

Hearing of this program, my own hope rose. I glimpsed a brighter future with young folks such as these leading the way. For more information, see

Now that we’re all trying to slow down our cars, save gas, wouldn’t it be a fun experiment to slow our pace of living entirely, take time to smell the coffee?

Speak to strangers. And, if you’re in Starbucks in Inverness, you may find some new friends to chat with like you were sitting on your front porch with neighbors.