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Non-Profit Spotlight

Cup of Grace

In January 2016, Amy Privitt was a brand new presence in the small town of Spirit Lake, Idaho. But that wasn’t going to stop her from bringing the community together in a new and special way.

A retired elementary school teacher with a friendly and easygoing way about her, Amy had an immediate sense that retirement wasn’t going to be restful. “I felt a specific calling to do whatever I can to bring the community together, and help respond to whatever needs we have here in Spirit Lake,” she said. “This might sound weird to some people, but I really felt this calling from God to simply do that. So my husband and I made the choice for me to retire from teaching and just respond to that calling… whatever that would lead to.”

The first thing it led to was a season of tightening the belt, as the Privitts went down to one salary. But then, a possible first step began to present itself. As the saying goes in any new endeavor: but first, coffee.

“I kept driving past this cool coffee shop here in Spirit Lake, and something told me I needed to work there,” She says. The place was called Brickel Creek Coffee. “I probably felt that nudge about six or seven times, but then I finally went in and inquired.”

She got the job, and for Amy, this is when Cup of Grace began to form, though it didn’t even have a name yet.

“A lot of conversations at Brickel Creek led to so many ideas about how to bring the community together, build friendships, and respond to the needs of our neighbors,” she says.  There isn’t a much better place to truly get to know community members than over a cup of freshly roasted coffee.  “The first and simplest idea is what we’ve launched here in early 2017.”

Amy gestures around the room, which is filling up with people, as well as the smell of shredded BBQ chicken sandwiches and the laughter of friends greeting one another. We’re in a large dining hall that Cup of Grace is using with permission from the Spirit Lake Senior and Community Center. It’s a free community meal that happens every Tuesday, and it has already become a local favorite. A small army of volunteers are bringing in crockpots, setting out the buffet line, and tidying up for the 5pm start.  This is just phase one of Cup of Grace, a brand new nonprofit that exists to simply serve Spirit Lake.

One of those volunteers is Kelly, manager of the Spirit Lake INB just down the street from Brickel Creek Coffee. Amy talks about Cup of Grace wherever she goes, so as she was setting up her banking for the new nonprofit, she was also — of course — recruiting. Kelly and her team jumped at the chance to help with the meals.

There is energy in the room tonight, and one can tell it’s a mixture of old friends and new: people who wouldn’t otherwise have a reason to come together, but are enjoying the chance to get to know one another and build a deeper sense of community.

Amy is along for the ride and open to whatever is next for Cup of Grace, and what’s next is a ton of work: There are endless city council meetings, volunteer recruiting, and building partnerships with established nonprofits doing similar work in other small towns in North Idaho.

Phase 2 will come this August, with the planned opening of a Help Center to connect Spirit Lake residents with local resources, as well as a Women’s and Children’s Advocacy Ministry that will focus on responding to needs related to domestic violence in the area.

The future is always swirling in Amy’s mind, but tonight people are simply breaking bread, making new connections and learning one another’s stories. A cup of coffee is a great place to start, and a meal with neighbors is even better. As Cup of Grace helps the community build stronger relationships, Spirit Lake will grow stronger, too - becoming an even better place to live, work, and play.