Blessings 'runneth over' at month-old King Cafe

Originally Posted Online: Sept. 06, 2013, 4:00 am
Last Updated: Sept. 07, 2013, 11:38 pm
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By Leon Lagerstam,

ROCK ISLAND -- Coffee pots have "runneth over" a few times, but King Cafe patrons at the King Center have kept plenty of smiles on their mugs.

In its first month of operation, the new cafe has drawn 15 to 23 people daily, according to the Rev. Dwight Ford, executive director at the center, 630 Martin Luther King Drive.

"It has become an ecosystem of conversation-building, where we have established a group of regulars who attend weekly, and we believe more and more people are becoming aware of the opportunity," he said. "At this stage, we couldn't ask for more."

The cafe is open from 8 to 10 a.m. weekdays.

Donations of coffee, tea, pastries, bagels, breakfast breads, coffee cups, silverware and money to support the new effort also have poured in, "and we are appreciative of the groups and individuals who have come out to support the King Cafe," Rev. Ford said.

The only tough times organizers faced early on was "getting the coffee pots to work or to not overflow," according to Mary Grace Boland, from the co-sponsoring St. Pius X Catholic Church in Rock Island.

Opening the cafe was part of the church's mission to better serve the city's west-end community,once served by St. Joseph's Catholic Church, which closed at 1316 2nd Ave., in 2005 and was demolished two years later.

Peoria Diocesan Bishop Daniel Jenky and St. Pius priest the Rev. Michael Schaab asked the parish's Faith and Action committee to explore collaborative partnerships with local organizations to address peoples' needs and integrate social-justice programs throughout parish and community life, according to earlier reports.

King Cafe evolved from that, targeting west-end residents and new immigrants and refugees.

"And it's not just for Catholics," Rev. Ford said. "It's open to people of any denomination."

Ms. Boland was among the early group of St. Pius planners who got involved and said it has been a great way to meet and interact with people, and "to share hospitality." The Bible refers to hospitality many times, she added.

For example, Hebrews 13:2 reads: "Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it."

Vodell Smith said she comes from Davenport every day to the King Cafe. "I love the camaraderie. It's a nice place with nice people who are very sociable. A lot of pleasantries get shared."

Longtime friend Don Payton has made it to the cafe all but one day. He missed the Aug. 1 opener because of earlier plans, "but I get here a little after 8 every day and help set everything up and get things rolling," he said.

Rev. Ford credited Mr. Payton for the cafe-creation idea, but Mr. Payton said it was Rev. Ford's doing. "I'm hoping we can add some sausage biscuits or bacon or something like that soon," Mr. Payton said.

"Yes, we want to expand the menu of food and the menu of services and opportunities we offer at the cafe," Rev. Ford said. "What we want to do is utilize this as a springboard to offer more day programming for senior citizens."

Ideas include bringing in guest speakers, book club discussions and independent living skills demonstrations, he said

"And we joke a lot about solving the world's problems over a good cup of coffee," Rev. Ford said, as long as the coffee doesn't "runneth" all over the floor.


Local events heading

  Today is Thursday, Oct. 2, the 275th day of 2014. There are 90 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: The ladies have adopted the fashion of wearing representations of insects in the flowers on their bonnets. Some look very natural.
1889 -- 125 years ago: T.F. Cary, former Rock Island alderman, has accepted a position as salesman for a Chicago wallpaper house and plans to move to that city.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Work on the new telephone building on 18th Street between 6th and 7th avenues is progressing rapidly.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Rock Island's new theater at 3rd Avenue and 19th Street will have a name significant of its location. The "Rocket" is scheduled to open Thanksgiving Day.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Two of Rock Island's newest water towers were vandalized last night, including the one at 38th Street and 31st Avenue, where police took five Moline boys into custody about 9 p.m..
1989 -- 25 years ago: Some of us who live in the Quad-Cities take the Mississippi River for granted, or at least we used to. But the river is not taken for granted by our visitors. And most Quad-Citians are realizing the importance of the river to this area as increased emphasis is placed on tourism.

(More History)