NORTH FORK – Kids in North Fork will soon have a place to gather for tutoring, mentoring, video games, homework or just hanging out.
Kory and Mallory Nunez, along with a group of dedicated volunteers, are hard at work in the new Public Coffee House, next door to the North Fork Hardware Store, where they will realize the dream of creating a safe and healthy environment for the young people of the community.
Kory is the Youth Director at Calvary Chapel of the Sierra, and his wife Mallory is the Children’s Ministry Director. They have long seen the need for a place like this.
“My wife and I have been serving here for about four years, and we’ve gotten to know some of the kids here in town,” says Kory. “We go to their homes to pick them up and drive them to church, and we’ve seen the cycle of depression, self destruction, and abuse or drug use. We’re trying to offer a place where they know that they’re loved, and offer them hope. That’s part of our goal here at Public.”
Mallory has lived in the area since she was 12 years old, and her mom – Tanya Miller – started doing Vacation Bible School at the North Fork Rec Center, in which Mallory also participates. Her father was a pastor at Calvary Chapel.
“Over the past few years we’ve seen the need in North Fork for a Youth Center, so that’s what we’ve started to do here,” says Kory, who runs a Youth Group on Friday nights at Calvary Chapel.
“We’ll be moving the Youth Group here so that we can meet right in town,” says Kory. The Calvary Chapel is about four miles south of town on Road 200 near Road 221. “That idea kind of sprung up as I was driving over here to pick kids up on Friday nights to take them over the church, then driving them back. So I got to thinking – there’s a better way to do this. By moving the Youth Group into town, we’ll be able to help out more kids and be a blessing to them.”
The goal is not just to provide a place for kids to have fun and hang out, which is definitely needed, but also to provide an opportunity to get a bit of on-the-job experience.
“That’s part of the coffee shop side of it,” says Kory. “We want to have a mobile coffee cart in here and have the kids run it. Then we want to go to events like the Loggers Jamboree and have the young people actually run that part of things, and give them job experience.”
As more people become involved, some have offered to teach classes such as drama, and Cynthia Elm — a statistics instructor for Clovis Community College and the Fresno Air National Guard Base – has offered tutoring one day a week. Cynthia has tutored high school and college students in math and chemistry since 2001.
The Nunez’s are working toward getting WiFi in the building so people can hook up their laptops or phones. They have the interior mapped out with a stage for live music, a foosball table, a spot for a pool table, a video game area, and tables and chairs for homework, socializing or enjoying a variety of drinks.
Kids of all ages and parents are welcome, and when the coffee bar is ready to go, the public is encouraged to stop in.
“Once we have the coffee shop up and running, we want that part to be open to the public, so you can help out by being a customer here as well, to keep the doors open and the lights on. We’re not looking to make a billion dollars, but if people like it, then they’ll come.”
The goal is to open Public Coffee House by the end of March, and be open Tuesday through Saturday, from 2:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Young people can come by after school and do homework or just hang out with friends. Kory does emphasize that they want to avoid the notion of parents dropping their very young kids off as a day care center.
So far they have had a TV and Xbox donated, and have a giant bean bag chair in the living room-style game area for kids to sit back and play video games. Any donations to the cause would be greatly appreciated, and volunteers are encouraged to come on board to help out at the center.
“We’re looking for volunteers – people who are interested in helping the kids out with tutoring, or just being eyes and ears,” says Kory, who is also reaching out to the North Fork Lions Club and other churches and organizations to participate in the project.
“We all want the same thing,” he says, “a safe and positive place for our kids.”
The vision of Public Coffee House is best described in their mission statement:
“Our mission is to provide alternatives to the status quo and break the cycle of addiction, depression and self destruction by providing a public home for the youth; a place of opportunity and hope, only to be found in the gospel of Jesus Christ; to provide an avenue for the local church to be present and active in the center of town, building relationships with the community directing them to Christ.”
(Interior photos courtesy of Public Coffee House Facebook page).