GraceFull Cafe: Serving Kindness to Those in Need

People from all walks of life would feel welcome at GraceFull Cafe in Littleton, Colorado. This cafe believes everyone deserves a well-cooked meal whether you can pay or not. Grace in Action, a program supported by the nonprofit, GraceFull Foundation, covers the cost if a guest cannot pay.

GraceFull is in a vintage house with rustic charm and a loving environment. If this were my first time visiting, I would be enticed by the smell of the coffee brewing and wonderful sweets baking. I would be greeted with kindness by the young lady taking my order, who explains how the cafe works. Her quiet personality and warm smile would bring some sunshine into my life. I would find a place to sit and begin to look around at the other tables. I would see a man creating homemade flies for fly fishing and another person typing on his laptop. I would see a couple with a cute baby and two friends laughing while they shared photos from their phones. If I was hungry, I would be served a simple but delicious meal.

At some point, I would be greeted by the co-founder, Heather Greenwood. Heather grew up on a Nebraska farm surrounded by good food and family. She always knew that she would someday try to recreate that environment, wherever she was. Heather went to college to study business and then worked as a certified public accountant. She wanted more interaction with people, so she went back to school and earned her teaching degree.

Through her involvement in a food pantry at her church, she realized how food helped show love and brought people together as equals. With her husband Troy, co-founder of GraceFull, and their children, she traveled to Uganda on a mission trip. There, in a completely different culture, the Greenwood family again witnessed how food was fundamental in bringing people together.

When they returned back to Colorado, Heather immediately started a business plan to open a gathering place that “felt like home” in her community. Their desire was to show a broader perspective of  community to people in various seasons of life. She believes that community is established through gathering together, sharing food, and conversation.

In 2016, GraceFull Cafe served its first meal with the tagline: “Gather. Eat. Give.” Heather believes in “loving people well through food and investing in the local community by connecting people to new outlets for serving each other and providing opportunities to give back.”

GraceFull’s core values are to:

*Invite, welcome, and love all people

*Show you the beauty in simplicity

*Focus on food that is friendly to your own kitchen

* Use what we have and limit the excess

* Give back often and with joy

After several visits now, I can tell you that GraceFull is living its core values. It is a place of comfort. It is a place to gather. Everyone feels welcomed and valued. Some are paying customers. Some are not, but will have their meals paid for by Grace in Action.

The limited menu is simple, but enough, and the food is tasty and easy to make. The cafe composts and reduces the trash of the day to one small bag. The limited menu options help with minimizing the food waste.

GraceFull Foundation is a nonprofit that partners with the cafe by providing six volunteers a day to help with cleaning, cooking, and serving customers. The foundation has 400 volunteers to draw from, and some guests who received a free meal come back to volunteer their time as a thank you for the kindness. Additionally, the foundation holds a Community Breakfast, a free community meal, on the first Saturday of every month. A sponsor covers the cost of the food and provides 22 volunteers to run the community meal. In this way, the sponsor steps into the vision for that day.

GraceFull is a place that is busy and buzzing with conversation. This is a community in the truest sense of the word. People from all walks of life would leave GraceFull filled with hope and good food.

If you are as touched by the kindness of GraceFull as I am, here are some ways you can help:

* Eat at the cafe and bring your friends

* Volunteer your time

* Sponsor a Community Breakfast

* Donate

For more information about GraceFull cafe or to learn how you can get involved, visit http://gracefullcafe.com/

Hanna Atkinson

Hanna Atkinson 23, lives in Littleton Colorado. She has been an avid public speaker and gave the commencement speech at her high school graduation. She became a Denver 7 contributor in 2015 and was awarded the Heartland Broadcast Emmy in 2017 for her segment "More Alike Than Different." Hanna was selected to be a Special Olympic International Health Messenger in 2017 to educate fellow athletes on becoming their best in sports and in life. She is creating a business to inspire joy, acceptance, and empowerment in memory of her brother, and she volunteers for many community nonprofits. In Hanna's free time she likes to ski, cycle, works out, plays chess, and listens to classical music.

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