Crepe cooking grows café and raises funds

December 21, 2017

Thousands of crepes, truckloads of bread, marmalade by the mountain and innumerable volunteer hours have created a flourishing breakfast community.

The Community Café at Taranaki Cathedral notched up its third year in November 2017, having raised $61,377 for charity.

It’s a Tuesday morning event, opening at 7.30am and closing 10am. Dozens of volunteers wait on and clear tables, others set up, pack down, cook and wash dishes.

The money is distributed to a variety of causes; the current one being the Rohingya refugees who began fleeing to Bangladesh in August 2017 after escaping violence and death in Myanmar.

The café is in the cathedral’s Hatherly Hall or foyer area that would otherwise sit empty on a Tuesday.

Large photo boards of the cathedral’s interior (currently closed for earthquake strengthening) explain features that people can’t currently see.

Breakfast goers munch on economical, tasty food ($1 per item), share tables with strangers or friends, bond and catch up before going about their Tuesday.

The volunteers who staff the café talk of fun, meeting people, being part of something.

Claire Patten started helping a year ago, and also volunteers at the hospital’s emergency department.

“The company, the friendships and helping people…and also the enjoyment – that has a lot to do with why I do it.”

Wynne Bowers-Mason moved to New Plymouth with husband Paul earlier this year, and didn’t know many people. She comes to 7am communion and figured she could fit in café volunteering afterwards. “It’s helping me get involved in the community – with something I can help in, which is what I’m used to doing.”

Two and a half years ago Jan Hudson began volunteering.

“I know it sounds silly but I love this. It’s wonderful. I have got to know so many people and all the volunteers are fun. A real community has developed.

“There’s a lovely feel about it…regulars, new faces. People bring their friends. One lady told me this morning she’s going to Ireland for Christmas but as soon as she gets back, she’ll be here volunteering.”

Nadja Bernhardt brings a group of clients from Tui Ora and has done so for over two years. At the café, there is wide acceptance of people from all walks of life, she says. Up to 10 clients join her and other Tui Ora staff each week, with regular tables reserved for them.

“The volunteers know us. They make a point of coming over. And it’s good to support a good cause. They read all the updates about where the money is going.”

Sometimes clients meet other family there because it’s affordable.

“They have a chance to mix and mingle with others in the community….it’s an inclusive environment.”

Café snapshot

  • Started by former Dean Jamie Allen in November 2014
  • The menu changes but crepes, toast, tea and coffee are staple items
  • Items are based on a suggested donation of $1 each – but people often choose to give more, and no one is turned away if they donate less.
  • Many goods are donated with thanks to Countdown supermarket, Graham Cochrane (Bayleys Real Estate), Kiwi Butcher, cathedral parishioners and others
  • The funds raised have gone towards the ebola crisis in West Africa, helping cyclone-affected people in Vanuatu, earthquake recovery in Nepal, the World Food Programme, supporting Syrian refugees, the Tear Fund anti sex trafficking project and other international causes. 
  • The Community Café shuts down for the holiday period after 19 December 2017 and reopens 23 January 2018.

The cafe team at the third anniversary lunch.

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