Coffee Strong held a party last Saturday to celebrate re-opening in its new location. After four years of subsidizing a money losing coffee business, the Coffee Strong board and volunteers changed the model from coffee house to GI/veteran resource center with full time staff. The site moved to a larger but less expensive space next door to the old location, still within spitting distance of Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Coffee Strong still serves coffee but that is now incidental to the mission: opposing the wars and helping service members and veterans understand their options.
Supporters and volunteers who assisted in the conversion were recognized as Plank Owners. As I understand the term, a plank owner is a crew member of a ship at commissioning. I was among those so recognized, with the certificate thereof, for which I am deeply honored. Also grateful that I've had the opportunity to be part of Coffee Strong since its beginning in 2008 and for the past three years volunteering there as a veterans advocate.
My relationship with Lewis-McChord goes back to 1970, when it was Fort Lewis Army Base next to the adjacent McChord Air Force Base. I did my infantry training at Fort Lewis from September to November, earning my 11 Bravo MOS before being sent to Vietnam in December. I never knew about the GI coffee house in nearby Tacoma, The Shelter Half. Being part of a similar movement for a new generation of service members is a source of great personal satisfaction..
Shameless plug: Like most shoestring nonprofits, Coffee Strong is always in need of donations. If you have some spare cash, you might consider slipping a few bucks their way.