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Bean’s Cafe celebrates 35 years of service

By Kate McPherson Photojournalist: Jared Mazurek - 7:29 AM July 30, 2014

Bean’s Café has helped the homeless and hungry in Anchorage for 35 years, but it’s a bittersweet anniversary for staff and volunteers.

“I think it’s a positive that we exist but I think everyone would agree, ideally, it’d be better if we didn’t have to provide these meals,” said Steve Williams, chairman of the Bean’s Café Board.

On Tuesday evening, Bean’s Cafe revealed plans for a $250,000 facility upgrade. It includes better security and a new conference room that will provide a private area for Bean’s clients to receive financial and housing help as well as attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

“Anything that our clients need we are hopeful our community partners will come and deliver those services right here at the café,” said Executive Director Lisa Sauder, who hopes the renovations will be completed by winter.

Two volunteers were also honored for their service at Tuesday night’s ceremony: Gregory Jack, who was a client volunteer for decades and passed away in March, and Brooke McPheters, who volunteered generously before her young life was cut short a year ago.

One of the biggest changes observed over the decades is the number of people in their 20s seeking help.

“They are able to make it for a certain portion of the month and then they run out of cash and they need something to help them through to the next paycheck,” Williams said.

Bean’s Café aims to help younger people by connecting them with services that focus on education.

Every person who walks through the door at Bean’s Café has a unique story and unique circumstance.

“Our job is to talk to them, learn from them and find out what they want help with and what they are ready to accept help for,” Sauder said.

There’s more than one reason for the increasing number of people accessing services from Bean’s Café, but not being able to afford a place to live is a big one.

“Huge issues in Anchorage with housing, housing is hard to come by and it’s very expensive,” Sauder said.



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