SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) – Grateful Coffee Co. opened in Springfield on April 17.
Since then, it has been looking for ways to give back to the community.
“We wanted a coffee shop with a mission. We wanted to be a positive impact on the community,” said co-owner Cana Austin.
Cana and her husband, Brandon Austin, opened the coffee shop after they both lost their jobs to the pandemic. They decided to make something positive out of the negative and try to spread that positivity to their customers every day.
Recently, they made a post on their Facebook showing mini life buoys they keep by the register that customers can hand to their barista if they want to talk on a bad day.
“People sometimes just need someone to talk to and just listen and, like, we can do that,” Cana said. “You know we are not clinical psychologists, but we have good listening ears and we have big hearts. When we posted about our little life preservers, it was just an idea that we had. We had no idea it was gonna go viral.”
The post got lots of attention on social media, to the surprise of the owners.
“We had no idea the response we would get and so we have been very surprised but very lucky and we are happy that it’s getting attention,” Cana said.
The Austins deal with depression and anxiety themselves, so they want customers to know this is a place to come and be heard.
“The concept we came up with was a life preserver, you know, like someone hands it to you, you’re the other end of that rope ready to pull someone in when they need it and we know what it’s like to need that,” said Brandon.
Even staff members, like Austin Woods, value the kindness of this gesture.
“As a person with autism and depression, I was like, you know, I want to talk to Brandon,” Woods said. “I actually just grabbed one of the life buoys and gave it to him and just poured my heart out to him.”