Since March 2015, on the corner of Olive and Chapel streets in New Haven, there has been a daily breakfast served to those in need. But what happens every day at the Sunrise Café is about more than just giving the less fortunate something to eat.
“We all like to start out the day in a bright, happy place, so the idea was to start with a free breakfast where people could come and start the day” John Bradley, the executive director of the Liberty Community Services, said.
The cafe is run by Liberty Community Services in early 2015. Each weekday, all year long, any person who so desires can come in and be served a hot breakfast at no charge. More than 100, and sometimes closer to 200, people show up for the meal each morning.
Bradley is a Yale University alum and many current students volunteer daily at the café to help bridge the gap between the university and the community it occupies.
“There are amazing people here. I just think that everyone gets hooked as soon as they come here,” Darby Henry, a Yale senior who has volunteered at the café since she was a sophomore, said.
“It’s not a handout, It’s about giving a helping hand,” said Thelma Ragsdale, the café manager who started out as a volunteer.
The café is also about more than meals. Visitors can get information about housing and even healthcare services.
“We try to reach out to them and engage them and try to empower them to come into healthcare and engage with us,” said Phil Costello, a nurse practitioner at Cornell Scott – Hill Health Center who makes regular visits to serve the café’s clients.
Clients can receive prescription refills and testing for things like tuberculosis, HIV and more.
“We feel this is a way to build community and a way to make New Haven smaller” Bradley said.