Local And International Companies Provide Youth Cafe Storage

2016-01-14There are a lot of possible words to describe what has taken place over the last two weeks. The word I’m choosing to use is MIRACULOUS. Yes, it’s strong I know, but when I tell you the tale you too may agree with me.

Many will say it was just hard word, luck, coincidence or blessing. I believe it could have been all those things as well. But from where it started to where we ended up, it feels like nothing short of a miracle to me and the rest of the GYA leadership team.

If you’ve been watching our development over the last few months you’ve seen that we opened the Refuge Youth Cafe. We have a list of needs posted under the cafe page here on this website and right at the top was ‘storage.’ The space we’re using for free is an operating restaurant and church, so they don’t have any extra space to store items for youth programming. We’ve been fortunate to get the space for dry goods storage and a refrigerator for our needs.

But we’re more than just a cafe. We have sofas, quarter auction items, extra supplies needed for programming, Little Free Libraries and most importantly we have large Steel Drums that need storage for our new program in 2016, One Sound. With my shed, spare bedroom and home office filled to capacity, there was nowhere to put ten 50-gallon steel drums, much less move them to the cafe venue for programming. Storage was a great need. I know it’s not sexy, it doesn’t make you feel all warm and fuzzy to give to ‘storage’ but it was necessary to work with youth.

I spent most of the holiday season watching Craigslist. Emailing those who had box trucks and enclosed trailers for sale. I’d email them daily, ‘if you don’t sell this would you consider donating it?’ And received no’s or no reply. Our deadline was looming, January 14th. Drums available for borrowing and moving on January 14th. Christmas came and went… January 14, 2016 was approaching fast.

Living in a port city, I’m surrounded by shipping containers, semi-trucks (lorries for our international readers) and all manner of companies that move freight all around the world. We have an international freight dock approximately 4 minutes drive from my house. While I was emailing each day I was also driving past the dock. Stephen and I would joke, “Just one of those!! They have so many stacked up!!” I’d dream “I don’t even need a big one, just a little sick one from the back of the herd – as long as it’s watertight!”

Then I decided…

You don’t ask, you don’t get.

If you do what you’ve always done you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.

Carpe Diem!

And all those other cliches. It was time to email the Ports and see what – if anything – would come of it. Especially the week after Christmas.

I emailed the Port’s Community Engagement Manager on December 28th. She replied the same day! She was in the office! And she took my email seriously enough to reply. Her reply was supportive but disheartening. The Port doesn’t own the containers – shipping companies do. She provided me with the names and emails of six shipping companies.

I began to craft the emails, knowing it was three days before the end of the year. I sent those six emails out with very little hope of reply, especially not before the new year.

Noon the next day. Email reply from Zim. We may be able to help but I need to send this up the chain.

Later that same day. We may be able to help but I need to send this up the chain to the company’s head offices in ISRAEL.

Later THAT SAME DAY, December 30, 2015. We can help! But we can only sell it to you a discounted rate – we are not able to donate it. Also, you’ll need to find your own trucking company to move it.

My mind was whirring. A discounted rate? What would that be for a 20 foot shipping container? $1,000, $5,000, $10,000?! I had no idea. I waited. I thought. I debated. I decided on January 3, 2016 to find out what it would cost and then go from there.

The email came back on January 4, 2016. 10 Days before my deadline. Right at 4pm when the GYA board was meeting before I left the country for a week.


Wait. What?

One-hundred and fifty dollars.

1-5-0 dollars?

I told the board. We emailed back immediately – WE’LL TAKE IT! aaaannnnd figure out how to move the thing later…

While I was out of the country, the Personal Assistant of our corporate sponsor, Bunch Real Estate, started calling the trucking companies trying to find someone to move this container for us for free or a reasonable price.

She found one who would donate. But no winch on the other end. No good.

2016-01-14 (2)She found another, Dale Old Wrecker Service. Who could move it. For only $150.

This is now Wednesday, January 13, 2016. I reach back out to Zim. We have a truck. Can we move this tomorrow? We can try but it will be tight. Send the wire of $150 (I still can’t believe this!) At 4:54 I’m in the bank sending the wire. Wire Sent.

Thursday, January 14, 2016. Drum pick up set for 3pm.

9am. Wire not received.

10am. Wire not received.

11am. Wire received.

1pm. Truck has picked up container.


330pm. Drums stored.

So now we have storage. And drums. And all for $300.

See? Miraculous. IMG_20160119_140824[1] IMG_20160114_155752


Refuge Youth Cafe is Open for Business

Word Cloud This Place For CafeUpdate since posting:  We are currently open two days per week (Tuesdays/Saturdays) and the sexual health clinic is on hold until the Health Department has staff available for a different day of the week to hold the clinic.

We have had a lot going on since our last update and we are sorry it has taken over a month to get you an update!!

The Refuge Youth Cafe is now open! We opened on November 2nd and are continuing with ‘soft-openings’ until Christmas. In January, our official 3-month trial begins and we will be open THREE DAYS A WEEK! On Tuesdays and Thursdays from 215-515pm and Saturdays from 215-? (we will be determining our closing time when we find out what our attendance is like).

In addition, we are partnering with the Portsmouth Health Dept to offer a teen sexual health clinic on Thursday afternoons at the Cafe. Teens will be able to access nurses and other health educators to get information, condoms, other forms of contraception, pregnancy tests and STI tests.

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Finally, we will be offering programs after the cafe hours from 6-8pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. More information about One Sound and Romance Academy will be coming in the new year.

The cafe menu is very basic right now although we will be offering fries in the new year which has been requested by teens already attending the Cafe.

We are excited about this partnership with Divine Dine N, the Health Department and the difference that having a space just for teens to be themselves will make in the City of Portsmouth where we are currently starting and trialing our programs.