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Serving more than coffee - The Mill serves others

A chime sounds every time the door to Baptist Children’s Homes’ (BCH) new coffee house opens. For the baristas, who daily greet

new customers as well as those whose faces’ have become familiar, that sound is more than an alert — it signals an opportunity to serve someone in a manner beyond fulfilling a coffee order.

“The women that work here are just very Godly and caring.

It’s hard to even know how to word it,” says Charlotte Edwards. Edwards is the manager for The Mill: Coffee & Community at Mills Home, BCH’s flagship location in Thomasville. In step with the organization’s mission of sharing hope...changing lives, Edwards and her staff at The Mill offer an environment that is enriching to all customers with an extra focus on families with children.

“You can see kids playing on our outdoor playground while also seeing someone doing their school work or spending time on their devotional,” Edwards shares. “It’s amazing that all of this can go on at the same place. Everybody is happy and feels welcome.”

The smile on six-year-old Olivia’s face affirms Edwards’ perspective. She and her mother, Jessica, visit The Mill multiple times per week. Jessica home schools her young daughter and has found The Mill to be an ideal spot for them. When her school work is completed,

Olivia likes to read on the couch in the sitting area or join other children on the coffee house’s fully-fenced playground.

While Olivia plays, Jessica opens up her laptop and tackles her own responsibilities. “Olivia thinks The Mill is a living room you pay to come to visit,” Jessica shares with a laugh. “She just fell in love with the atmosphere. ‘Mrs. Kim’ introduced her to a game on the coffee table and she was sold.”

Kim Hearn, or “Mrs. Kim,” is one of several baristas who serve at The Mill. A mother whose two boys enjoyed reading, Hearn began envisioning a regular event at the coffee house called “Story-time.” “When we opened, one of my first thoughts was we have this playground, and we have this great environment where moms are going to come. Let’s also offer something to encourage them to

come,” Hearn explains. During “Storytime,” Hearn reads an illustrated storybook to children giving their family members an opportunity to relax and enjoy their coffee.“It’s been really

encouraging because it’s not the same families all the time. We’ve constantly had new people join us,” Hearn shares. “It’s been fun to have the kids come out to hear something new and sometimes make a craft and just interact together.”

The staff have seen “Storytime” continue to grow with nearly 20 children attending their first Saturday event. Overall, Edwards has seen traffic increase as word has spread about The Mill and the extra services offered to the community. Because it only used a smaller portion of the larger building it occupies, the coffee house

has been able to expand and increase its sitting capacity. The new area opened up in time for its special Valentines Day event on February 14 that offered live music and special holiday-themed amenities for guests—an ideal event for a coffee house whose motto is, “Do good. Be kind. Love a latte.”

In addition to the newly-completed expansion, they are in the process of refurbishing another room that will create a larger meeting space that can be utilized for multiple purposes. “It gives us more room for ‘Storytime.’ There’s also a baby shower taking place here in March,” Edwards divulges. “We hope the community will find even more reasons for it.”

As with all of Baptist Children’s Homes’ services, The Mill is nonprofit with funds going back into the BCH mission including the tips collected in the jar by the cash register. It’s another reflection of how The Mill, and its dedicated baristas, is focused on serving others. “It’s warm and peaceful here,” Edwards says. “It’s a peace where you know God is with you.”

Written by Blake Ragsdale, Managing Editor of Charity & Children

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