Saturday, December 3, 2011

Cafe Momentum End-of-Year Wrap-up: Greetings and Gratitude

Good afternoon, fellow Cafe Momentum supporters! Tomorrow night will be our seventh and final pop-up dinner of 2011at Cane Rosso with guest chef Brian C. Luscher. With a guest list of 110, it’s our biggest one yet.

For those of you attending, here are a few helpful tidbits of information. This dinner is not BYOB. Due to TABC restrictions, no alcoholic beverages can be brought on premise, but we have worked a deal with Cafe Momentum supporter JR Richardson to provide wines from his wonderful new label, Oak Cliff Cellars. (Yes, that Oak Cliff.)

With a whirlwind year quickly coming to an end, I have been reflecting a lot lately on what an incredible ride it has been. I vividly remember the first time I visited the Youth Village: the facility, the garden, the kitchen (kinda got a thing for commercial kitchens), and especially the young men that gave the tour.

I remember thinking that I would never be able to repay those young men for the enormous impact that they had made in my life while they showed me around the campus. You know how you sometimes get a terrible, out-of-date song stuck in your head for hours and hours? Multiply that times 1,000, and it doesn’t come close to how stuck the Youth Village was in my head. Difference is, I didn’t want it to go away. I wanted to do something.

Apparently, so did you. We Americans are always looking to not only pick up a brother (or sister) when he’s down, but also dust him off and help him find his way again. It’s what we do. It is the spirit of America. The response from every one of you to support Cafe Momentum has been humbling, inspiring, motivating, affirming, and, at times, has made this manly man cry.

Let’s reflect.

We held our first pop-up in June. As a group, we (Janice, Jerry, Ken, Jennifer, Chris, Phil, and myself) agreed that the first dinner would let us test the waters, throw out a little bait to see if we could get any nibbles. We all agreed that we would keep it simple, simple, simple: 50 guests, $50 each. We figured that if no one would buy a ticket, we would divvy them up ourselves and call every family member/friend we had and guilt them into buying a seat.

We were stunned by the response. Not only did we sell out that first dinner, but we had booked 68 seats before we could close down PayPal. In the six months since that first dinner, all of you have responded beyond any of our wildest imaginations! You have more than just supported Cafe Momentum; you have changed lives.

Look at these donation numbers to date:

  • 130 plates (yes, people are still dropping them off)
  • 115 sets of silverware
  • $93,000 in donations and pledges

We are now in the process of applying for several grants, including one from Crystal Charity that would accomplish our entire fundraising goal! We have finished our start-up and operating financials and completed the business plan. We are meeting weekly with various civic and business leaders exploring any and all ways to reach the ultimate goal—to turn Cafe Momentum into a brick-and-mortar, permanent restaurant.

I would like to leave you with a little story from the November dinner. One of the supervisors who chaperones the young men at the dinners was attending his first pop-up. About an hour into the evening, he began to pepper me with questions about Cafe Momentum. How long had we been doing this? When would we have a permanent restaurant? How did we think of the idea?

After I answered his questions, he shook his head and said, “I’ve never seen anything like that.” I responded that there were other similar concepts, but, yes we were unique. “No,” he said, “I’m talking about these young men. I’ve never seen them like this.”

I asked him what he meant. “See that young man over there. I work intake. I was one of the first people to encounter him when he arrived. If you would have told me that I would be standing here today seeing him do this, I wouldn’t have believed you.” I asked him to explain more. “He was angry. Mad at the world. Mad, mad, mad. I just can’t believe it. Look at him. He’s smiling, he’s working hard, he’s proud.”

I replied, “Maybe he just needed someone to believe in him.”

Thank you for believing in these young men. In a world where they’re referred to as “throwaways” (yes, I learned this is the term used to describe them), you have given them the greatest gifts of all: hope and love.

For those friends of ours who we won’t see at tomorrow’s dinner, we look forward to seeing you in 2012. As you plan your end-of-year giving, we ask that you consider Café Momentum. Your support can be a big part of making Café Momentum a permanent part of our community and help equip these young men to reach their full potential. Visit us online at and

Thank you with all of my heart!

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