The Community Cafe has been serving meals from churches in York County since 2010, but they hope to hit the road soon.
The volunteer cafe offers a free meal in three locations in York County and is raising money to buy a food truck to take their meals straight to needy neighborhoods.
“I’ve always believed everybody should be treated with dignity and respect and love, regardless of their particular situation,” said cafe founder Don Murfin during Thursday’s lunchtime meal at Sisk Memorial Baptist Church in Fort Mill. “We’re all children of God.”
Mary Rasmussen, who has been volunteering with the cafe for about five years, said the nonprofit has raised about $41,500 of the $50,000 needed to buy the food truck. She said she hopes to raise the rest of the money in the next few months.
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U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman, R-SC, who is running against Democrat Archie Parnell for re-election Nov. 6, stopped at the cafe Thursday to serve soup and sandwiches. He said Murfin is “the real deal.”
The cafe serves meals 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesdays at Lake Wylie Christian Assembly in Lake Wylie, Thursdays at Sisk Memorial Baptist Church and Fridays at Lake Wylie Lutheran Church in Fort Mill.
“What better place to have a mission like this than a church,” Norman said. “You know, we’ve left God out of the public arena for too long. We’ve left God out of a lot of our missions. I can’t tell you how many schools I go in and we used to over the loud speaker have moment of prayer, not we just have a moment of silence. That’s sad.
“And we wonder why our schools are in the trouble we’re in? And a lot of that, God is going to be the one that solves our problems in our country, God is going to be the one to solve our problems in Washington, D.C.”
Isabel Cordova, who has been volunteering for about four years, said volunteers serve meals and carry guests’ trays to their tables.
“We really wanted to have that cafe feel,” Cordova said. “We’ve had people break out into tears. We really want you to feel welcomed and come back.”
The cafes also deliver meals to the homebound, who can’t come into the cafe.
“Our volunteers might be the only people they see all week,” Cordova said.
She said there are about 300 volunteers between the three locations.
Rasmussen said when they raise the additional $9,000 to buy the food truck, they plan to have the truck stationed in the Paradise neighborhood in Fort Mill and on Chestnut Street in Rock Hill at least once a week. She said they’ll make more stops and go where the need is greatest.
Murfin’s biggest message is the cafe’s slogan: “All are welcome.”
And he works hard to make sure guests feel welcome. Rasmussen said Murfin got up at 3 a.m. to start making Thursday’s meal.
“It’s not my cafe, no, never was,” Murfin said. “I put together the business plan, but this is the Lord’s cafe. And it’s the love that he shares with all of us that makes it really special.”