For me, I’ve been an artist and doing art classes and art instruction forever. That’s what I studied in school and that’s what I really like. Even though I taught in many different places, with kids and adults and seniors, camps and all different things I never worked in a setting like this at all. So I found my niche. I decided I wanted a volunteer position a couple of years ago and I looked at different things. They were sort of more formal and didn’t work for me. This happened through a connection here, Linda who is a member, we joined a book club together. She knew I was looking for a volunteer opportunity. It’s about a year that I’ve been coming here. Then, in the fall of last year I got connected with another group that was a funding thing of music and art called Music, Art, Jamming and Community and that’s how I connected with Lisa. I got Lisa the gig, she’s the music lady. It kind of really just blossomed.
At first we were going to different locations doing music and art in many different settings, but we had the best response from here and it felt right so now we come every Tuesday. It’s all about the community. Being in community, trying to get people involved. It is odd for me that I found a place here where I should be here doing this. I am Jewish. To be in a church setting of any kind is not natural, or sometimes not even comfortable. It’s not a big part of it, but it’s something I am aware of. Sometimes people will say something to me and I’m not sure how to respond. People will say to me “Blessings to you”, or “Jesus be with you” and I’m just like “back at you”. Bruce is wonderful the pastor here, I have to give him credit for being a man of the people, he takes time to connect with volunteers and regulars to the café in a very natural and supportive way.
*While the Bridgeport Café is run in a church building, the intent of the café is to be non-denominational and secular. Our many volunteers, clients and donors come from all different parts of society, from the very religious (of all faiths) to athiests, and all points in between. All are welcome here. While we specifically do not wish to be a religious entity running programming, our presence in a religious building does allow our clients the unique opportunity to discuss their own faith journeys and gives some of them a sense of a safe place to express faith. Many of our clients feel alienated from faith communities in general, and while it was not our goal when we started, it is wonderful to see people of sincere faith, or sincere atheism to be able to gather together, talk together and freely express the sentiments unique to all of them.