Bridging the gap with coffee

Red Deer’s street population might seem a world removed from other people in the city’s downtown. But Amanda Gould thinks a gift of coffee can narrow that gap.

Red Deer’s street population might seem a world removed from other people in the city’s downtown. But Amanda Gould thinks a gift of coffee can narrow that gap.

The executive director of the Red Deer Downtown Business Association is helping to bring Suspended Coffee to the city. Already common across Canada and elsewhere in the world, Suspended Coffee refers to the practice of buying a hot beverage — usually anonymously — for someone else to enjoy.

“You can go to the coffee shop, buy your normal coffee, and then you can buy another one,” said Gould, explaining that the purchaser is issued a token for the second, unconsumed coffee that they can leave in a collection box or give to someone else.

Quenched International Coffee House, Café Millennium and City Roast Coffee all plan to participate, she said.

Cafe Pichilingue — which has been sold and is scheduled to close today — is already operating its own Suspended Coffee program. Owner Penny Elliott discussed the initiative with The Leadership Centre of Central Alberta, which in turn shared the idea with several of its alumni — including Gould.

“We just decided to take advantage of that and expand on it,” said Gould. “It’s been really easy to do.”

Tokens and cash left at participating coffee shops will be given to Red Deer’s Safe Harbour Society, which will pass them along to clients and others in need.

“It’s not just the homeless who are going to benefit from it,” said Gould. “It’s people who are just managing to get their foot back on the first rung of the ladder: it could be young moms or people in subsidized housing.”

She also likes the idea of creating something that people can hand to members of the street-involved population without worries that it will be used to buy drugs or alcohol.

“They’ve now got the option to give them something.”

Gould thinks the Suspended Coffee program will reduce the apprehension of those who are approached for handouts, and generate business for the coffee shops.

“Anybody from Red Deer could now end up with one of these tokens, which brings more people downtown.”

The city’s expanded Suspended Coffee program should begin shortly, she said.

“We’re just waiting for the tokens to come in, so hopefully it’s all going to be up and running in the next week to 10 days.”

The program received a boost this week, when more than $1,100 was raised for it at The Leadership Centre’s 2014 Leadership Conference.

Linda Wilson, the centre’s executive director, praised the initiative as a positive way to help street people and others in need.

“It’s a way to still have dignity, for those people,” said Wilson, adding that the donors benefit as well.

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Alberta hiring more paramedics and buying new ambulances, none for Red Deer

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer is not concerned the provincial government didn’t… Continue reading

‘My nightmare began again’: Close call as bus carrying Humboldt crash survivor rear-ended

CALGARY — A terrifying ordeal for Humboldt Broncos survivor Ryan Straschnitzki this… Continue reading

Halifax airport operations normalize after Boeing 747 runway overshoot

HALIFAX — The Halifax Stanfield International Airport has resumed normal operations a… Continue reading

Bentley family left without a home grateful for community support

Central Albertans are coming together to support a Bentley family left homeless… Continue reading

Red Deer RCMP ready for new mandatory alcohol screening law

Red Deer RCMP are ready to enforce a new law intended to… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer and District Kennel Club Dog Show at Westerner Park

The Red Deer and District Kennel Club is holding a dog show… Continue reading

Pence aide out of running to be Trump’s next chief of staff

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s top pick to replace chief of staff… Continue reading

Swath of South faces wintry mess: Snow, sleet, freezing rain

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A massive storm brought snow, sleet, and freezing rain… Continue reading

‘I killed my best friend’: Opioids’ fatal grip on mayor, pal

MOUNT CARBON, Pa. — Janel Firestone found her son — the 24-year-old,… Continue reading

Brothers, 20, face second-degree murder charge in death of teen: police

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Police west of Toronto say two brothers have been… Continue reading

A young mayor, his friend, and a fatal attraction to opioids

MOUNT CARBON, Pa. — Janel Firestone found her son — the 24-year-old,… Continue reading

GM fights to retain key tax credit amid plant closing plans

WASHINGTON — General Motors is fighting to retain a valuable tax credit… Continue reading

TTC union asks provincial government to step in on transition to Presto

TORONTO — The union representing transit workers in Canada’s most populous city… Continue reading

Small pot growers find roadblocks on path to microcultivation licences

Yan Boissonneault’s daughter was turning blue. Without warning, his baby had stopped… Continue reading

Most Read