CUNNINGHAME St’s old Frasca Electonics building has undergone a sparkling conversion into Sale’s newest hub ‘Caf 123’, serving coffee with a cause.
The brainchild of husband and wife team the Reverend Rich Lanham and his wife Julie, ‘The 123 Project’ provides the community with a multi-purpose community space where food, hospitality, creative arts and exploring faith come together as a platform of resources and encouragement for young people and their families.
Officially opened on May 5, ‘The 123 Project’ currently consists of a shop front that serves coffee and baked goods, and an open community space, with plans to build a commercial kitchen.
Living in Sale for just over four and a half years, the couple started out as assistants at St Paul’s Cathedral.
The rev-head reverend (he has a passion for motorcycling), is the newly appointed chaplain at Gippsland Grammar, and director of ‘The 123 Project’.
He decided a youth community space would be a great way to create a fresh expression of faith in the area.
“My main focus was youth and families, and community development in the diocese,” said Rev Lanham.
“We ended up speaking to a bloke about this building . . . and he said he was going to give it to us rent-free until the end of 2018, which is amazing.”
To date there has been about $100,000 invested in the project, mostly in the form of professional services and goods in-kind. They have also received grants from Anglicare, RACV, Rotary and other private donations.
The caf is now open to the public, with all proceeds paying for the running of the venue and youth projects undertaken in the community space.
“Anyone is welcome for a coffee and a biscuit to help out,” Mrs Lanham said.
Projects planned to be undertaken in the space include fundraisers, a youth action and leadership program, live music and performance, a breakfast program and church services.
The reverend describes the project as a positive space for young people and families underpinned by elements of connectivity, spirituality and entrepreneurism.
“We want to bring people together, we want to create a space for people to experience belonging and love and we want to create a space where people feel safe to explore and understand their inherent spirituality and how it connects to the Christian story without feeling that you have to have an affiliation to a whole lot of things that you don’t subscribe to,” Rev Lanham said.
The caf also provides a vocational pathway for young people to find direction and develop their abilities.
“Particularly with young people who have found it difficult to engage with mainstream pathways, there’s a lot of research around developing a young person, their understanding of who they are, what they do, and how they could potentially turn that into income,” the reverend said.
“In a welfare state kind of culture, what we need to move away from is handouts, and more towards working out ways you can do it for yourself.
“It’s about empowerment,it’s about self-determination.”
The proposed kitchen will allow for young people to develop skills in the hospitality industry.
Mrs Lanham, a published nutritionist, will lead cooking classes, sharing her skills and knowledge of healthy eating.
“The program will be aimed at youth, and young families in particular, on preparing simple but healthy meals, about using what’s in the cupboard,” she said.
The transition from business to community space has been welcomed by local youths Ruth Postlethwaite, Jordan Rowand and Orin Giesbers.
“I know the previous owners would’ve loved (to see) this – a place that’s really special to them become a really special place to Sale,” Ruth said.
Jordan said it was rewarding to participate in something that improved the lives of others and the community.
“We’re going through Year 12, and it brought a lot of us together at school, to do something social that wasn’t just studying,” said Jordan.
“[Caf 123] doesn’t care about who you are or where you come from, it’s just cool to come and have a chat – everyone here’s so friendly,” said Orin.
Caf 123 is open Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 7.30am until noon, and Thursdays 7.30am to 9am at 123 Cunninghame St, Sale.