Our first family intern, Clay Robins aka “The Legend” wrote a piece about his visit to Front Porch Cafe, the result of our inaugural Community Innovation Grant to Church Hill Activities and Tutoring. Read on to learn a bit about our experience through Clay’s eyes!
Front Porch Cafe
In 2014, Robins Foundation awarded a $500,000 grant to Church Hill Activities & Tutoring (CHAT) to fund an initiative that would provide an opportunity for aspiring neighborhood youth to build businesses and hone marketable skills for future employment, in their home community where few employment opportunities currently exist. The result is the Front Porch Cafe.
CHAT’s mission is to equip the youth of Richmond’s East End with the “heart, head and hands to make transformative life decisions.” For example, CHAT provides one-on-one tutoring, unique educational opportunities, mentorship, enrichment activities, and immersion in a supportive and nurturing community.
Last week, Robins staff had the opportunity to get a sneak peak of the facility! Visiting the Front Porch Cafe was both fun and an informative experience. Immediately upon arrival, we were greeted with a plethora of happy smiles, cold beverages, and delicious baked goods. After a few minutes, CHAT’s Work Leadership Institute Director, Chris Whiting began to explain two major goals of the café; to equip young adults with crucial job skills, while at the same time, serving delicious food and drinks which foster a “front porch culture.” Following the warm welcome, students of Church Hill Academy who were a part of the preparation process spoke about their experiences planning and contributing towards building the Café.
It was awe-inspiring to see and hear of the hard work and effort of everyone to create such an interesting space. All those involved appeared to be incredibly dedicated and excited for the future. Believe it or not, each table in the cafe had been delicately hand-crafted by various kids involved with CHAT’s Nehemiah’s Workshop, which added even more charm to the homey atmosphere. My favorite aspect of the cafe was the grand feeling of openness. It’s not every day that you see a restaurant which was converted from an old gas station, but to my surprise, the quirky design works quite well. The giant garage-style door certainly gives you that “front porch” feeling, while also allowing for tons of fresh air to constantly circulate in and out of the building. I am looking forward to visiting in the near future, and I have no doubt that the Front Porch Cafe will be a great success.
I am thankful for the opportunity to see firsthand, the positive impact Robins Foundation provides Richmond communities, along with the gratitude people have shown towards our organization and family. Seeing a project we helped fund up close and in person filled me with a wonderful feeling, and I am extremely proud to be a part of it.