The Father’s House steps in to save community coffee shop with community help

Above: Rick Melvin records Pastor Greg and Betty Fraser at Higher Grounds last week ahead of The Father’s House announcement that it would step in to help the local coffee shop.

Above – Video shot by Ric Melvin of The Father’s House. Video was shown to the church family Sunday morning.

by Stephen Dafoe

For the second time in as many years, someone has stepped in to save a coffee shop and community gathering place that has been a staple of downtown Morinville for almost 10 years.

Higher Grounds Espresso Bar was originally run by Crystal Terhorst and a group of dedicated volunteers. However, the business was at risk of closing just over a year ago after the original founders retired. A local business owner stepped in to keep it operating for a year. That business owner’s generosity, coupled with a large pool of volunteers has allowed the business to continue.

With that offer expiring at the end of February, the shop looked at a number of options to keep the doors open and the coffee pouring, including seeking a volunteer manager and community sponsorship.

During that time a number of corporate sponsors stepped forward, including Quinn’s Plumbing, Home Hardware, Jiffy Lube, and The Morinville News. A number of individual financial supporters as well.

But additional support was still required to provide support and to help run the shop. That support officially came Sunday morning when The Father’s House announced it would take over operations for the next year.

“As of Mar. 1 The Father’s House church has decided to step in and take it on for one year,” said Higher Grounds Manager Betty Fraser. “They will take responsibility for it financially and for running it.”

Fraser said nothing would change as far as customers and guests are concerned. The name and the not-for-profit community mission will remain the same.

“We will still give away whatever money is leftover at the end of the month,” Fraser said, noting that January’s net profit will be donated to a Morinville family that experienced tragedy last weekend in a vehicle collision near Grasslands. “We will still fund charities in the community.”

One change is the ability for the shop to issue tax receipts for charitable donations. For that to be possible, the current board members, Kim Mills, said the current Higher Grounds Board of Directors would be dissolved effective Feb. 28. At this time the same board members, as well as other applicants as received, will form the Higher Grounds Cafe Committee, which will fall under the Father’s House Board.

Betty Fraser will remain on staff as a volunteer. Elizabeth Melvin will take on the duties of shop manager. Fraser said Melvin and her husband Rick, both of whom are involved with the Father’s House, previously ran a coffee shop and bakery in the US.

“It’s still the community coffee shop,” Fraser said. “Absolutely nothing changes as far as how it’s run other than hopefully opening for more hours in the evening and on Saturday.”

For now, the shop will continue to run Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. as well as being open for special events, including cribbage tournaments, talent nights, and vendor events.

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