Brewing up change

Gathering Grounds is hoping the community embraces their cafe that intends on sharing profits with the needy.

President Kurt Lehmann of the Gathering Grounds Cafe Society and cafe manager Jenn Tribble look the work at the newly-opened non-profit coffee shop at 756 Eckhardt West this week.

Would you drive five minutes out of your way to buy a coffee if it meant that money would be returned less fortunate in the community?

Kurt Lehmann is hoping the answer is yes. Gathering Grounds Café is a non-profit society that intends to gives back to the local community. Lehmann — who is the president of the five-person society — has poured his heart, soul and savings into the idea for this café located across the street from the Penticton and Wine Information Centre at 756 Eckhardt Ave. West. With one paid manager and the assistance of volunteers, he has faith the café will be able to start generating profit to help those in need in the community.

Situations have already presented themselves where Gathering Grounds can help. While picking up furniture for the café, volunteers saw a couch for sale in a classified ad. They came across a Penticton mother who was selling her furniture to help pay to transport her sick child back and forth to Vancouver. Gathering Grounds hopes to be able to help people in just these types of situations.

“This is a way people can help out others in the community without walking up to a box and sticking some cash into a slot. They come here, relax, listen to music, get involved in theme nights and the money they are spending on their coffee, muffins, soup, breakfast wraps or whatever is going to help people out in our community,” said Lehmann.

Lehmann has put in excess of 1,500 hours, over and above his day job as a refrigerator mechanic, to get the Gathering Grounds set up from a former ceramic shop into a cafe with a small stage with an open mic policy for musicians.

“It’s just one of those things that I think people at some point in there life have something laid upon their heart that they need to do,” said Lehmann. “I think part of it was I had gone through a really bad time in my life where I was on a path of self destruction and it was either I smarten up and improve my life or I was probably going to end up dead. I needed to make some sensible choices. It was totally my own fault that I was messed up the way I was, but it seemed to be it was the worst thing to be a 28-year-old male needing help because I was sent away empty handed. It hurt my pride so much walking into Social Services to ask for help but being turned away hurt even more.”

At noon on Saturday, Gathering Grounds will host a parking-lot barbecue fundraiser to help get the business going. Live entertainment will be featured in the evening.

The non-profit is accepting monetary donations as well as items to run the business. A display cooler from Lee’s Overseas was already donated to the shop but Lehmann said they will accept items from local bakeries, signage and a discounted or free espresso machine. For more information on the café, how to volunteer or donate visit www.gatheringgroundscafe.org