CAFE 180

Volunteer Leaves a Legacy of Hope and Connection at CAFE 180®

image1 Volunteers are at the heart of how CAFE 180® seeks to reduce hunger in our community.  Not only does our “pay what you can” model encourage anyone to give their time and energy in exchange for a delicious meal, but the daily operations of the CAFE depend on the support of regular volunteers such as Mark Niebels.  Like most people who encounter CAFE 180, Mark was intrigued by the concept of “pay what you can.” He lived in an apartment nearby and remembers his interest in volunteering in exchange for a good meal.  “I didn’t have a job and figured this would help me out a lot since I was living on a fixed income because of my disability,” Mark said.  A devastating car accident at age 19 left Mark in a coma for six months.  Doctors had little hope he would wake up, much less recover.  However, Mark miraculously awakened and has learned to live with significant speech and mobility challenges over the last 34 years. “I’m a lot better than I was,” he explained, “but nowhere near where I would like to be.” Through it all, Mark has maintained an attitude of hope and optimism.  “You don’t choose what you’re gonna get in life,” he admitted, “but it’s always your choice of how you’re gonna deal with it. I chose to take the narrow road and my whole outlook has changed because of my relationship with Jesus.” As he began to frequent CAFE 180, Mark soon realized the CAFE provided more than just physical nourishment.  “There’s good food here, but even more than that, there are good people here,” Mark said.  “They are friendly, kind and always make me feel welcome.” Mark has been volunteering nearly every day the CAFE is open for the past three years and now welcomes others into the CAFE community.  He delights in connecting with people and introducing newcomers to the concept of paying it forward.  “When they get it, their eyes just light up,” he explained. “I love when they leave $20 for the next person.” “Mark is one of our most devoted volunteers and he always brings a smile to the faces of our customers and staff,” shared executive director Sarah Lesyinski.