Front Porch Café
by Bill Melver, Chair of the SDOP Committee at Eastminster Presbytery
At first glance, the Front Porch Café isn’t much to look at. The small sign on the east side of the old brick building reveals very little of what is happening inside. Its location next to the Summit County Jail might even make one leery of turning off the ignition and getting out of the car.
Stepping inside, you discover a large room with tables and chairs and pictures on the wall. It’s not fancy; but it’s clean and inviting. The food isn’t fancy either; but it’s fresh and carefully prepared. The hiring of an experienced chef and a new menu focusing on consistently good deli style foods promises to attract return customers.
But the Front Porch Café isn’t primarily about food. It’s about people. The people working and serving in the Front Porch Café would have difficulty getting an interview for a job anywhere else. They may be ex-felons who recently resided at the jail, recovering drug addicts, and former prostitutes. A man who lives on the street leaves his sign outside that reads, “Will work for food.” Inside, after finishing a cleaning job he was assigned, he sits at a table eating a large bowl of soup and crackers. The people employed at the Front Porch Café have something in common. They have had difficult lives and they want to change. The Front Porch Café gives them the opportunity.
The Front Porch Café is a work in progress. It began with a vision and sense of call that God could make a difference in the lives of people whom much of society has forgotten.
Thirteen years ago, Duane and Lisa Crabbs moved into the Summit Lake neighborhood of South Akron along with their four children with a passion to do ministry with the poor. They founded and direct South Street Ministries, the parent organization of the Front Porch. They are joined by a competent team of people who share a love of Jesus Christ and a passion for ministry to the neighborhood.
Joe Tucker speaks with excitement as he recites the variety of recovery groups that meet in the Front Porch facility. He tells how the Front Porch takes risks so that at-risk persons may discover what Christ can do in their lives.
Eric Harmon loves to take visitors to the second floor of the building consisting of ten rooms in various stages of repair. Far from being habitable at this time, Eric sees a day when the rooms will be filled with activity ranging from community services to small businesses. After listening to Eric, visitors can see the possibilities too.
Then there are men like Michael Starks and Perry Clark. Michael is founder of an organization called SLAAP (Start Living and Acting Positive) and Perry directs TRY (Truly Reaching You Ministries). Perry Clark is a member of Eastminster Presbytery’s Self Development of People Committee. Both men are ex-felons, having spent considerable time in prison. Both men have had their lives transformed by Jesus Christ through ministries that reach out to ex-felons. Both men now lead ministries that reach out to ex-felons in the name of Jesus Christ.
Your past gifts to the Self Development of People through the One Great Hour of Sharing have made a grant to the Front Porch Café from Eastminster Presbytery possible.
Your gifts to the 2012 One Great Hour of Sharing will enable Eastminster Presbytery to make possible future stories of faith and human transformation through the Self-Development of People.