Like other restaurants, Café Rhema closed its doors to customers in mid-March. Owner Joshua Spencer determined it was time to get creative and figure out not only how to survive the pandemic, but also to continue serving the community.
Partnering with the local faith community, he went about figuring out how to provide meals to local hospital workers who were putting themselves at risk by treating those infected with COVID. It started with providing 150 meals a day split among the three main area hospitals. From there, Josh created a GoFundMe campaign to continue the effort and enlist other businesses and volunteers.
In April, partnering with Freedom Center Church and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Café Rhema-led initiative received a $100,000 grant to continue providing meals for front-line workers. Josh spent many hours in contact with local hospitals arranging meal drop-offs and ensuring that each shift would be provided for. He spent hours working behind the scenes and reaching out to downtown restaurants that were interested in partnering in the venture, gaining participation from about 20 of them.
So, not only were frontline workers fed, but the restaurants were also able to secure some income during a tough time. Josh not only worked behind the scenes on getting the whole thing organized, but he also worked hands-on and helped his team at Café Rhema make meals and coffee and helped with deliveries if needed.