By Rebekah Hanish
Buzzing with clanking dishes, calling orders and the hum of small talk, Café 180 serves up lunch to their customers. Known for their “pay-as-you-can” system, the kitchen of Café 180 is filled with volunteers. Though the volunteers work for their food, for some, it’s still not enough. That’s why Cathy Miller, owner of Café 180, has decided to partner with the Denver VOICE.
“I heard about the VOICE, and I loved the idea,” Miller said. “It dovetails perfectly with what Café 180 is about, helping people be self-sufficient. I know a lot of people who are homeless and don’t want to be. They’re hard workers, and they want to work.”
Born and raised in Denver, volunteer Bobby will begin vending the VOICE in Englewood as soon as he completes his orientation. Having volunteered at Café 180 for almost a year now, he expresses his appreciation to Miller for coordinating the partnership with the VOICE.
“Nobody is willing to hire ex-cons. I like working, but I can’t find a job for nothing,” Bobby says. “Cathy, she’s doing what she can to help me up out of that.”
Living in fear of the camping ban, Bobby hopes to make enough money vending the VOICE to obtain an apartment as soon as possible. But his eyes cloud with a hardness when he looks at me and asks, “Am I going to make enough money to get me out of here?”
Quickly changing the subject, Bobby calls over his friend, another volunteer for Café 180 and future vendor for the VOICE, Ellie May. Though Ellie May is petite and unassuming, no one would dare overlook her with her bright eyes and beaming smile. Ellie May claims she is a little nervous to talk to strangers, but it doesn’t take her long to open up.
“I’m shy, but I’m not shy. I’m fabulous,” Ellie May says.
After washing dishes at Café 180 for about five months, Ellie May is also excited to begin vending the Denver VOICE.
“They keep telling me I’ll do great,” Ellie May says. “But I’m nervous to be in front of a lot of people.”
It’s easy to see that Ellie May’s coworkers are right. She will do great as a vendor. With a passion for making people’s days, Ellie May’s favorite thing is to get others to smile. Whether it’s complimenting an outfit, a hairdo or eye color, she makes it a point to make someone smile every day.
“I love people,” Ellie May says. “Everybody’s fabulous. They just need to be told they’re fabulous.”
Though sad to be spending less time with her “family” at Café 180, Ellie May hopes vending the VOICE will provide her with some much needed income.
Look for the VOICE’s new vendors in Englewood as early as next week directly outside Café 180, Wellspring Church and TNL Church at the Gothic Theater.