What’s better than a cup of coffee, a bowl of ice cream and the nurturing presence of a family member when you don’t feel well?
How about knowing your family is taken care of too?
Sweet Coffee and Ice Cream served up a $1,000 donation during a fundraiser for the Camp Lejeune Fisher House in Jacksonville, N.C., Saturday. The Fisher House Foundation provides free, temporary housing for military families during times of medical crisis.
“Every little bit makes a difference,” noted Josephine Callahan, manager of the Camp Lejeune Fisher House. “Things like this restore your faith in humanity.”
While Sweet, a mom-and-pop type coffee and ice cream shop, has slowly built its reputation with its popular open mic nights and tasty treats since opening its doors in November, the fundraiser was inspired by a personal connection to military families.
“My husband sustained a (traumatic brain injury), and I wanted to be able to support an organization that helps people who are in the same position we were in,” said Desiree Sharp, Sweet general manager and a military spouse. “This has been a great place, and we’ve gotten a lot of response from the community. We’re getting more and more faces in here all the time.”
Owners Luke Handelsman and Mark Moseley Jr. were quick to support the event, not only donating portions of the day’s proceeds to Fisher House but bringing in former Washington Redskins kicker and 1982 NFL Most Valuable Player, Mark Moseley Sr., to sign autographs and meet with visitors.
“We try to treat everything and everyone like family,” Handelsman explained. “It really works for us. It’s more than just being here but actually offering something people haven’t had before. Everything we’ve done is for this community.”
Callahan, along with Handelsman and Moseley, hoped the event would be mutually beneficial in getting the word out about the Fisher House.
“A lot of people just don’t know we’re here for them,” she stated. “Many service members are remotely located from their families. Often times we send them to other locations to be treated, leaving them twice removed from their home. When they’re transferred, their families go too. It gets expensive, and if they can’t afford a hotel, what are they supposed to do? That’s where we come in.”
The Camp Lejeune Fisher House, located aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune as part of the Wounded Warrior Complex, attempts to be a home away from home for families who travel to be near their loved ones during stressful times involving unexpected illnesses, diseases or injuries.
They provide everything from a full kitchen with appliances to laundry detergent and even phone cards for their guests at no cost.
The elder Moseley visits hundreds of severely wounded and sick service members who are hospitalized at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., and he has personally seen the effect the Fisher House Foundation has on military families.
“They’re the Ronald McDonald House for the military,” he remarked. “The average person doesn’t realize how hard it is on the families when their service member is hospitalized, and they have no where else to go. They deserve as much as we can give them. There’s no way we could ever repay them for all their sacrifices.”
Moseley Sr. remembered the decision he had to make when graduating high school at the height of the Vietnam War.
“I knew I had a chance to play football, but I also had an obligation to my country. So I put my number in the hat,” he said. “My number was 312, and they stopped drafting at 309. I’ve always felt like one of the fortunate ones.”
Since then, it is a matter of duty for him to help the military however he could, and it’s one he accepts whole-heartedly.
“Every American has a responsibility to give back to the troops,” he acknowledged. “They allow us to do what we do. I’m honored the people at Camp Lejeune would even still want my autograph.”
Sweet’s employees happily helped customers beat the heat by whipping up smoothies, iced coffees and banana splits, and let them know their part of their purchase was going toward a great cause.
“We want this to be something ongoing,” Moseley stated.
Selling cold treats on a summer day may be Sweet’s specialty, but their sweetest surprise was their generous support of service members and their families.
“It means a lot,” Callahan said. “It makes a difference.”
The Camp Lejeune Fisher House is available to all active-duty service members, veterans, retirees and their families while actively receiving medical treatment at the Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune and other local medical facilities.
For more information, call 450-3885 or visit www.lejeunefisherhouse.org.