2013 marks the creation of the next "stop" in the Magdalene and Thistle Farms enterprise: The Thistle Stop Cafe. As we break walls to make windows, carry in wood that will become our floors, choose fair trade coffees and teas that will be prepared and served by the women of Magdalene, we come to understand that we are each integral parts of the history of the Cafe. Like our products, this will be a gathering space that is handmade with love.
We'd like to shine a spotlight on some of those people in our community who are adding their gifts and talents to the very foundation of the Thistle Stop Cafe. Today, we feature: Courtney Johnson, Cafe Coordinator.
1. How did you get involved with Thistle Farms / the Thistle Stop Cafe?
I first came to Thistle Farms as a Development intern/volunteer in January of 2012. I remember the first time I sat in the circle, everyone went around, sharing their hopes, fears and wisdom without judgement. That's when I knew this place and these beautiful women were going to be a huge part of my life. When I started volunteering, I was working at an upscale restaurant in downtown Nashville. In fact, I had been in the restaurant industry since I was fourteen. My parents had owned two restaurants in West Tennessee, I had been a manager at restaurant in Murfreesboro for a short time, and put myself through school serving and bar-tending. When word spread that Thistle Farms would be starting a cafe, I knew I wanted to be involved! A fundraiser was planned for April 2012 for the Thistle Stop Cafe, but no one had stepped up to organize it, so I took on the job. Needless to say, I've been the "Cafe Contact" ever since.
2. What is your role with the Thistle Stop Cafe?
I'm still asking myself that question! It started as organizing the "Broadway Babies" fundraiser, then it evolved to Cafe Coordinator. This whole Cafe adventure has been a true community effort. My job basically consists of finding all the right people and resources, the "pieces" of this beautiful puzzle, and putting them all together to create the Thistle Stop Cafe.
3.Why are you helping? What about the project / women inspires you?
I'm inspired by the love that surrounds this place and the courage of all the Magdalene women. I get to work side-by-side with my heroes and friends on a daily basis! I'm truly honored to have the opportunity to take my place in the circle and witness the power that love has on this community.
4. Why should people come to the Thistle Stop Cafe once it's open?
The Thistle Stop Cafe is so much more than just another place to grab a cup of tea or coffee. Its also a place to share stories. There is a "story in every cup" at the Thistle Stop Cafe, and we honor that in every aspect from decor to our coffee beans.
5. What is your favorite memory of the Thistle Stop Cafe so far?
I remember standing in the demolished cafe space before construction had started. I was talking with Carolyn about all the miracles that had happened with the cafe so far. On a daily basis, the right people and resources would simply appear on our doorstep with exactly what we needed for the cafe. Carolyn asked me what the cafe needed at that moment. I thought for a second and responded, "An iMac desktop for our POS. Its an expensive piece of equipment that not many people are willing to donate and its not in our budget." So we stood in the dark, damp cafe space and said, "We need an iMac for the cafe." We walked out laughing, and Carolyn hopped on a plane and went back to California. Two days later, Jim asked to talk with me. He said, "My buddy has an iMac desktop. Do you all need it for the cafe? He wants to donate it." I asked him if he had talked to Carolyn, but he had no idea what I was talking about. Neither Carolyn, nor myself had told a soul about our little request. My faith has grown tenfold since I've started working for Magdalene. There is true power in what is happening in the hearts of this community, and I'm honored to be a part of it.
We are so grateful to Courtney for her organizational skills, tenacious spirit and beautiful heart! The Thistle Stop Cafe would not be possible without her.
For more information on how you can help become part of the history of the Thistle Stop Cafe, visit HERE or contact Courtney, our Cafe Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.