Serious Coffee owner Linda Riddell knows what it’s like to be away from home with a child sick in hospital.
Which is why she is so passionate about the coffee shop’s fundraiser for Jeneece Place, a home away from home for children receiving treatment at Victoria General Hospital.
“This is a tremendous cause,” says Riddell. “When you have a sick child there’s enough stress involved without having to worry about where you’re going to stay and stress about the expense of travelling back and forth.”
To help support the multi-million dollar project, Serious Coffee is selling one-pound bags of Organic Guatemala Arabica Coffee Beans, a medium-dark roast, for $15 a bag and $2 of that goes to the Queen Alexandra Foundation for Children to help build Jeneece Place.
Riddell says up until Feb.6 each of the 26 Serious Coffees on Vancouver Island are selling the coffee, made special for the cause but in Campbell River, donations have been tough to come by.
“Coffee sales have been low, not even close to our target. You’d think because we’re out here that it would be big. The further away from Victoria, the more important it is to have that so I’m just surprised we’re not doing better with the fundraiser,” says Riddell.
She says often when she recommends the coffee beans to customers most have never even heard of Jeneece Place. Riddell is hoping to spread the word because she knows only too well what it’s like to try and scrape money together to be with a child undergoing treatment away from home.
When Riddell’s daughter was young she was in an Edmonton hospital, three hours from their home in Hinton, Alberta, for 10 days.
“I felt like ‘I can’t afford this’, it’s very hard,” says Riddell, who stayed in a motel nearby with no financial help.
When her stepson had to undergo a serious operation at BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver, she lived for 12 days in a camper atop her pickup truck in the hospital parking lot.
“A lot of people will be in that situation but they just don’t know it yet but the people who have been in that situation know how important this is,” says Riddell.
Jeneece Place is the dream of Victoria’s Jeneece Edroff,16, who, despite suffering from a rare disease that causes tumours to grow on nerve pathways throughout her body, has dedicated her life to raising money for organizations that help sick kids.
She has raised over a million dollars for Variety, the Children’s Charity through a penny drive and $1.5 million for BC’s Special Kids. In October she received the Order of BC for her efforts.
Now she has set her sights on Jeneece Place, a place for children, and their families, requiring medical services in Victoria.
Riddell would love to see more people come in to Serious Coffee and help support Jeneece’s vision. Even those who don’t drink coffee can help by making a contribution to the donation box available.
To raise the stakes, all Serious Coffee locations are competing against one another to see who can raise the most. The winner gets the honour of presenting the cheque to the Queen Alexandra Foundation for Children.
But Riddell says for her it’s not about the competition, it’s about raising as much money as possible for a cause that means a lot.