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Welcome to the
Benevolent Bean

Fusing Warm Beverages with Community Bridging to Deliver "Kindness-in-a-Cup" to the Santa Cruz Homeless Community

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Sophia Hyver, Director of the Benevolent Bean Program
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Become a Benevolent Bean

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The Inspiration: My daughter, Sophia, and I founded this program through the insights we gained from our shared empathy as we watched, morning after morning, the homeless people along River Street, Santa Cruz, slowly emerge from their makeshift shelters, doing their best to pull themselves together for the coming day. What more might one desire at that moment than a warm drink to brighten a mood and to soften some of the hardship that many of us simply assume any "street person" can absorb without struggle, fatigue and despair. 

The Beans: We see our world as full of beans. A bean may grow into a bean sprout, whether it's a coffee bean or a human bean. The bean symbolizes a life yet realized--a bottled-up potential to grow and flourish in the world. One must nourish a bean in different ways (rich soil, water, fertilizer, sunlight) before it can fully express its unique identity, flower and bear its fruit. The same holds true for human beans, some of whom are neglected during certain critical phases in their sprouting process. Which leads us to a most special bean: a benevolent bean. These are the most critical members of the bean family who take care of the poorly-nurtured beans and bean sprouts, providing short-term comfort and seeking long-term solutions to help them flourish again and, without whom, our world of beans would simply begin to fall apart. Once a sprout becomes self-reliant again, it becomes a robust and resilient bean stalk.

The Program: The Benevolent Bean is a charitable program designed to reduce some of the hardship that bears upon a homelessness person each day. The Bean Mobile is an electric vehicle (aka "food truck") that circulates into areas with manageable concentrations of poorly-sheltered, homeless individuals lacking proximity to equivalent services (e.g. nearby food distribution centers). The program delivers free, warm beverages (coffee, tea), from 8:00am – 10:00am each day. Its driver is responsible for navigating the Bean Mobile into homeless areas (targets) and serving the beverages to homeless patrons. The program is 100%-reliant on tax-deductible contributions from its donors. Become a Benevolent Bean today.

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Core Mission: The program serves dual purposes: (1) to aid a homeless person start their day on a positive note by serving them a warm cup of coffee or tea, served in a dignified way by a uniformed barista, to rekindle their self-worth and (2) to provide a third-party avenue to communicate with the homeless community in an environment built on friendliness and trust. This third-party passenger may join the morning ride by signing up on the vehicle’s Ride-Along List. Our greatest goal is to restore hope, courage and a renewed sense of potential in the dialogues our baristas establish en route. We want to help bridge as many homeless individuals as possible back into the mainstream of our society through education, material support, kindness, generosity, respect and guidance from the members of our community. We want to give a face to homelessness.

Activism: If you think that the Benevolent Bean program is simply about delivering coffee and building bridges between the mainstream and homeless communities of Santa Cruz, then you would only be half right. At the Benevolent Bean, we call anyone supporting us through volunteer service, donations or sponsorships an Activist by aiding us in our core mission. Your participation would specifically target local homeless needs. These functions are best served by the mainstream community and Santa Cruz. But, we aren't going to be content trying to alleviate simply the symptoms of homelessness. We also want to start attacking the multi-varied sources of the problem--sources which are being neglected through under-funding and lack of prioritization. That's when we rely on our peaceful Agitator community. From sit-ins, to street marches, to social media barrages to city council challenges, we go outside the scope of our core mission and extend our functions by influencing government and corporate decision-making. And, we have some pretty unconventional ideas to deploy in our strategy and look for others to share their own strategies. The "Volunteer" form includes a check box for Benevolent Beans who wish to "kick it up a notch" in effecting state and national policy change by joining our Agitator community.

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