Have you heard of suspended coffee? I had heard of it before, but never got to participate until I got to Montreal.
Started in Naples, Italy, a suspended coffee is a pre-paid coffee for homeless people when available. That is, someone who can afford it pays for a suspended coffee and later on, someone who can’t afford one gets a free coffee. In the winter months this is especially nice so people who have to live out in the cold can warm up momentarily.
The cafe I visited in Montreal, Bobby McGee, has suspended coffees, sandwiches, and soups. It works on the same principle. If you want to contribute, you just pay for the suspended coffee/soup/sandwich when you check out and a mark gets added to the blackboard indicate one is available. In the images below, my mark is the one to the left under “cafes suspendus.”
In this cafe, the people claiming a suspended item must take it to go. I suppose it is to avoid loitering and presumably some aspects of homeless life would bother the other patrons (smells, for example). I asked the owner how it got started. He said it read about it on Facebook and realized it would cost him nothing to facilitate, yet it would help the homeless population in the neighborhood. So, he asked “Why Not?”
Although this system does almost nothing to help the homeless get out of their situation, it facilitates selfless compassion. I think many people want to help those less fortunate but don’t know how. They want to do something positive but don’t necessarily want to get too involved or get too up close and personal. The cafe plays the role of the middle man and facilitates this goodness and compassion.
It’s something small, but if everyone did something small there would be immeasurably positive results…