Compassion Café LBI: Pouring Hope and Possibility into Every Cup

Compassion Café, now in its second year of residency on Long Beach Island, is a café on a mission. As a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Compassion Café provides meaningful employment and job training for older teens and adults with disabilities. It was truly an honor for me to speak to the café’s founder, Sue Sharkey, and to learn more about the café and its positive impact.

More Than a Café

Each season, Compassion Café sets up shop in “borrowed” space. The unique nonprofit, founded by Sue Sharkey, is currently set up in the beautiful Sea Shell Resort in Beach Haven. 

Compassion Café is committed to hiring everyone who applies. This season they have a paid staff of about 70 members and a volunteer base of about 100. The Café is also willing to work with the staff on scheduling. Each member can have up to 10 hours of work per week, based on their availability. Volunteers usually come in once a week.

Providing valuable work to the special needs community not only produces a paycheck, but also imparts a feeling of independence, self-confidence and work skills that can be applied to other jobs. This season there are many returning employees as well as a couple of staff members who have used their customer service skills to obtain employment in addition to their café hours.

Dine In or Take Out

Seasonally, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 11 a.m., Monday through Thursday, customers can dine in or pick up some grab-and-go hot or iced coffee, tea, and light fare such as bagels, pastries, fruit, yogurt, and carrot cake. The staff also makes items for a dog menu, so bring your pup!

Time to Shine

In this world of rushing around, patrons of the café are there for the experience: hope and possibility. In a calm atmosphere, customers are happy to watch the staff learn, grow more confident, and shine as they take orders, pack to-go bags, hand out menus, and tidy up.  

Get Involved

Donations to Compassion Café are the fuel that keep the team’s mission alive. Donations provide the Café with everything needed to operate including food, aprons, sanitation, advertising, menus, and more. The majority of donations go directly to funding payroll for the staff.

If you would like more information about employment or volunteer opportunities please email: 

Compassionate Café 2022 Season
10 S Atlantic Ave
Beach Haven, NJ 08008