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posted: 7/16/2010 12:01 AM

Coffee brings people, causes together for a common good

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A lot can be accomplished over a cup of coffee. Disputes can be resolved, groups can get organized, business can be accomplished.

In some cases, that cup of coffee can lead to people being helped and yes, people saved.

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Just ask the folks at Bethany Lutheran Church.

Over coffee, the Batavia congregation held a fundraiser for Heifer International, a charitable organization that provides gifts of livestock and training, to help families improve their nutrition and generate income in sustainable ways.

The animals are considered "living loans" because in exchange for their livestock and training, families agree to give one of their animal's offspring to another family in need. It's called Passing on the Gift - a cornerstone of the mission that creates an ever-expanding network of hope and peace.

The congregational effort wasn't just about the coffee. There were some amazing pies involved. Bakers from the congregation contributed a multitude of pies for auction.

"Heifer International is a great charity because it gives families worldwide the tools that they need to survive," said the church's financial secretary, Maureen Scollon.

This wasn't the church's first effort for the popular charity. In the past, Sunday school teacher Becky Rosenthal motivated her students to save pennies to contribute to the cause. As a special treat, church member Chuck Bauer brought in farm animals for the kids to pet.

"I got to see a goat and chickens, a goose and listen to a rooster," said third grader Molly Schuster.

The combined effort resulted in the donation of two heifers, two goats, three pigs, two trios of rabbits, one hive of honeybees, four flocks of chickens, four flocks of ducks, six flocks of geese and one llama.

Michael Grudecki also knows about the power of a good cup of coffee. Grudecki is the owner of Vignette Home Decor the design store located next to Trader Joes on Fabyan Parkway.

Grudecki told me that clients often stop by the store to see what has come in and to have a cup of coffee. One, Phyllis Furman, suggested having coffees at the store on a regular basis.

"It was an 'aha' moment," said Grudecki. "Why not invite clients to the store and encourage them to bring something for a charity each month?"

Grudecki started "Coffee for a Cause," a group that helps local charities.

"Our goal is to turn that cup of coffee into winter jackets for the cold, food for the hungry, and hope for those in need," he said.

On the first and third Friday of every month, the store provides coffee and pastries for anyone who brings in a donation for the month's charity.

During July and August, the store is collecting clothing for "Poised for Success" a nonprofit organization that provides career clothing for women who are enduring tough times and trying to improve their lives by re-entering the work force.

"It's a great organization," said Grudecki. "In the future we hope to hold coffees for Mutual Ground and Lazarus House."

Even though Vignette Home Decor is a design firm, the store does sell items out of its store. The public is welcome to stop in and see what is in the store. Anyone who brings in a donation for the charities is welcome to attend the coffees.

And don't forget our regular coffee retailers, Four Beans, Limestone and Panera. These organizations often donate leftover pastries to non profits and provide coffee for other fundraisers.

Coffee anyone? You have no idea how much power is in that single cup.

For information about "Coffee For a Cause," visit www.VignetteHomeDecor.com.

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