Craig's Compassionate Cafe back in operation
A shiny new kitchen now greets the visitors and volunteers every morning that Craig's Compassionate Café is open to the public at 780 E. First St.
The café is part of the outreach of Redemption House Ministries, a 501c3, faith-based nonprofit, which is located within the building that is the Prineville Nazarene Church on East First Street. The mission at Redemption House Ministries is not only to provide a nourishing meal for those who find themselves in a tough situation, but for the shelter it provides a warm bed. It also serves a deeper goal, which is to "uproot the seed of fear inherent in those who experience homelessness, and to re-plant seeds of hope into those who have lost this necessity," as explained eloquently on the Redemption House website.
After being closed for nearly one year, Craig's Compassionate Café had a soft reopening on March 29. The café is open to anyone who needs a meal, and the café is staffed by volunteers like Lynn Ludecker, Gale Clark and Krissy Squires—all of whom work in the kitchen to provide meals.
Clark stated that they have a table in the cafeteria where they offer food products that have been donated that they cannot cook with and are free to anyone who wishes to help themselves. She emphasized that the meals are free for anyone.
"There are no questions asked, and if you need a meal, you should come down and get one," Clark stated.
The kitchen at Craig's Compassionate Café is currently undergoing some positive changes and recently began opening Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., providing a lunch meal for the public. Jerra Woods is the case manager for Redemption House Ministries and indicated that the café provides meals for the patrons and guests at Redemption House.
"I am thrilled to death that we are back open again," Woods said enthusiastically. "Craig's Compassionate Café is going to be amazing, because not only does it feed your body, but it feeds our souls. We can encourage each other, and we can lift each other up and become a part of each other so our community can be strong."
The café has also received some generous donations from Facebook's own kitchens, straight from the Facebook campus above Prineville. Volunteers go up to the campus to retrieve food that is donated by the tech giant and take it back to the kitchen to serve to guests.
The café closed shortly after the passing of Redemption House Ministries Executive Director Greg Sanders and immediately before the closures due to COVID-19. There are plans for a grand opening on May 22.
While the café was closed last year, some major remodeling took place, with new paint, and a major overhaul of the kitchen. A brand-new sink was contributed by Marilyn and Ron Davis, who have been an active part of the community. A plaque dedicated to the couple hangs in the kitchen, recognizing their support of the cafe.
Also involved in the kitchen remodel was Prineville Nazarene Church Pastor Andy Perriman and his family, as well as Chris and Ron Fox. In addition, the late Dale and Mary Craig left money upon their passing to establish the Redemption House Ministries and Craig's Compassionate Café. Debbie Landers, office manager for Prineville Nazarene Church, recalls the Craigs, who were members of the church.
"When Mary passed away, she left the money to start the shelter and the café. They named the café after her," said Landers.
She added that Mary was also a strong advocate to support and help the ministry to reach out to the homeless. Granddaughter, Tammy Brundidge, also recalled memories of her grandparents and their giving spirit.
"They raised a family of eight kids, and Grandpa was very hard-working, and Grandma was too," recalled Brundidge. "They went through some tough times, raising a large family, but God was good to them. After a while, they were able to give back, and they felt a strong sense of family and community."
Brundidge remembers that some of her best memories centered around family get-togethers, where there would be more than 50 family members gathered around a table. She emphasized that her grandma was especially giving towards others, and when she passed away, Brundidge was on the Prineville Nazarene Church board and the Redemption House board as well.
"Pastor Matt Huff was our pastor at the time, and his heart was in Redemption House and the homeless shelter."
She added that when the opportunity to take over from the other church that was in charge of the café, she felt like it made sense to use the funds from her grandparents towards what is now Craig's Compassionate Café.
"I loved them a lot, and I think they would be happy with the way that the money has been used."
Currently, Cindy Burback is the director of not only Redemption House Ministries—a women and children's shelter—but she oversees the men's shelter in Crook County in addition to Craig's Compassionate Café.
Redemption House Ministries reaches out to the community to those who have need for food and temporary shelter.
"We share what we have," Burback said. "We do have a couple of homeless families who are couples who don't want to be split apart, so they don't come to the shelters to stay, but they come to take showers, do laundry, and we give them food. We not only serve those who are staying with us, but we reach out into the community and serve those who we can, too."
She went on to say, "Here in Crook County, I want this to be a program where we actually help the homeless in our community to not be homeless and to get that second start."
Burback emphasized that approximately 85% to 90% of the folks who come through the door appreciate that kind of program and want to help themselves, and that they have many success stories where they have helped people get stabilized and get their lives back on track.
"These are the kind of things that as a program, I really feel like the Lord is being faithful to us, and he is helping us with some of the donors in getting the word out there that we are really trying to make this program work. We really need the help of the community," she concluded.
Craig's Compassionate Café
Grand Opening May 22
Director: Cindy Burback
Case manager: Jerra Woods
Contact phone: 541-362-5642
Address: Prineville Nazarene Church, 780 E. First St.
Craig's Compassionate Café is located in the gym/kitchen area of the church
Want to volunteer? Meal prep, serving, clean up and socializing are opportunities. Interested volunteers may reach out and share with the guests at Craig's Compassionate Café.
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