Compassion Café Update

By Joseph Guastella

There is something extraordinary that happens when one is privileged to experience the grace and sense of timing that Jessie choreographs into her dance; or hears the simplicity and honesty that Patrick shares when he reads one of his poems; or beholds Mickey/Elvis duded up and completely immersed in his song; or when one simply takes the time to receive a newsletter from Steph and sees the smile grow across her face.

Kate is Compassion Cafe’s “Swiss Army Knife” serving as both a staff member and mentor for new arrivals. She is going to college to become a Special Education teacher. There is not room enough within the confines of this article to tell you about all of our staff. But there is a way for you to learn, dear reader. The first step is to take a trip to the Sea Shell Resort in Beach Haven from Monday morning through Thursday morning, 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. It is for certain that you will be offered a copy of Compassion Café’s thoroughly enjoyable and informative weekly newsletter — The Sea Shell Scuttlebutt. It is our pipeline to the world. See what’s happening! Meet the staff! Have a conversation! And in the process be uplifted to a degree that will stay with you long after you leave the premises.

Compassion Café — Open mid-May through mid-September. Where the coffee is great, and the goosebumps are free!

It turns out that our gang at the Café is chock full of singers, dancers, poets, authors, painters, musicians, swimmers, dreamers, horseback riders, and ice cream eaters. Some are natural performers and take to the Cafe’s stage. Others are shy. But they all have an opportunity to take part to the best of their own ability in a community of caring and dreams. They share their passions. They reveal what moves them.

The original and literal definition of the word compassion, derived from Latin, is to suffer with. A more complete and modern meaning would include, to have a strong desire to relieve someone else’s pain.
But perhaps, we, the witnesses are the ones who suffer, who feel uncomfortable or unsure of how to talk to someone who is differently abled. How does one begin? The answer is quite simple really — the same way one would with anyone.

The fact remains that folks not involved in the special needs community may wonder how to interact with someone who has physiological or intellectual challenges. One may feel pity for an individual. One does not want to insult anyone by talking down to them. However, one never knows what response might be given if one does not take the chance. If you feel you need permission to approach, just ask. Here is an example: Alex is a friendly young man in a wheelchair. Amazingly he is able to drive the chair using only his head. It seems that many folks at Compassion Café walk around him, wanting to give him space but that is not why he is there! He is our resident pollster with questions for Café visitors whose answers are tallied up and shared in our newsletter. “Gabbing with Grace” is an easy and entertaining way to join in the fun. If you are lucky, Kathryn may offer you a bagel — on the house. So, come on down to our place, Compassion Café, and discover a different slant on the word talent.

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