Arts & Features Writer
Nestled in the Swannanoa Valley, a short way off of Old U.S. 70 lies Mountain Home, an orphanage that has been standing since 1904.The hundred-plus year-old campus offers plenty of history, but recently it added something new to the community. Mountain Home Thrift Shop and 13 Pennies Café opened their doors to the public on Oct. 12.
The idea for the new facility came to the team at Mountain Home when the Home began receiving a surplus of donations, according to Volunteering Assistant and Special Project Coordinator Cheryl Campbell.
Some of the items such as furniture could be used by the children and residents at the home, however a lot was going to waste. Campbell said this realization led to the creation of the store.
According to Thrift Store and Café Staff Coordinator Ben Lillard, the home was able to construct its new facility with minimal cost to the organization itself through donations.
Despite the low price tag, Mountain Home Thrift store was designed to be a high quality thrift store, as was 13 Pennies Café.
“We want to have high quality coffee and products,” Café Lead Daniel Lancaster said.
Lancaster further explained that he wants their food to actually be good. The downfall of outreach programs and ministries that offer goods or services oftentimes is that the product is being sold simply because of what it stands for, Lancaster said.
Lancaster said the coffee shop serves food that people actually want to eat because of the quality, rather than because of the organization it represents.
One way the coffee shop is ensuring this quality is by using local favorite Dynamite Roasting Company beans. In addition, Lancaster and the team at Mountain Home have teamed up with a farmer from Honduras to provide their own signature roast.
According to Lancaster, the coffee for the café’s signature roast is grown by a team of about 10 farmers in the Central American country.
Lillard explained the unusual name of the café, explaining that the first ever donation to the original orphanage in 1904 was that of 13 pennies.
According to Campbell, Mountain Home places a lot of emphasis on the upward mobility of its residents. It encourages them to learn trades or get higher education after graduating high school, and helps to provide them with the means to do so.
Lillard explained that the orphanage is different from a lot of other group homes in that they “strive for a true continuum of care.”
The home does not stop caring for a child after their stay ends; instead, they can stay for as long as want or need to, with some residents even staying into early adulthood. Some people even return to the home for holidays thanks to the sense of community fostered at the home.
One way the home encourages residents toward success is through their apprenticeship tracks. Residents can learn culinary skills, automotive repair and outdoor recreation leadership, among other things through programs the home has put in place.
The newest option available to the people living at the home is a job at either 13 Pennies Café or Mountain Home Thrift shop. This gives experience and teaches skills to the people working, and also fills the requirement that the people who are of age must have a job to stay in the independent living section of the home.
“Social Services is pushing normalcy, but it’s also severely lacking in that respect,” Lillard said.
This on-campus job allows for children who are at working age and living in the home to begin to take a step towards normalcy in addition building skills and experience for later in life.
Lillard said that the home is pretty lenient on what qualifies as a job for the residents. More or less, as long as there is an income, they are welcome to stay in the independent living facilities, as café worker Austin Rosario has done.
Rosario is the oldest resident living on the Mountain Home campus, and has been since 2010. Rosario said he sees the café and thrift store as a service to the community.
“It’s a way to give back to the community which has given back so much,” Rosario said.To learn more or volunteer at Mountain Home Thrift Store or 13 Pennies Café, visit https://www.mountainhomethriftstore.org/