A New Coordinator at the Kids Cafe
Breanna with Willow

In March, after eight years of service as the coordinator of the Kids Cafe, Stephanie Grear moved onto a new position in the Department of Corrections. Emmaus welcomed staff member, Breanna Mekuly as its new coordinator. The Kids Cafe re-opened to children under Covid guidelines in March as well. Breanna shares some of her background and hopes for the program.

Q: What excites you the most about being the KC coordinator?
A: I’m looking forward to creating spaces for the children to laugh and have fun along with spaces where they can explore who they are and grow into who they want to be: What are their hopes and dreams? What barriers might be currently keeping them from becoming their fullest selves? How can we work together to address these needs and provide the children with the necessities, skills, and self-confidence?

Q: What experiences have you had that have helped prepare you for this role?
A: For the past four years, I've interacted with and gotten to know the families who regularly dine at the soup kitchen. I’ve also collaborated with St. Benedict Education Center studying the barriers that stand in the way of self-sufficiency for neighborhood families. Prior to working with the Benedictines, I oversaw a collegiate campus ministry department where I engaged students in meaningful conversations, events and activities.

Q: What is the most important quality to impart to children? Why?
A: The Kids Cafe offers children a safe, stable space where they are respected as individuals. I hope this will allow the children’s self-confidence to grow. Food is necessary for survival. But our health and well-being depend on more than that. Every child deserves to be a child—to laugh and run and be goofy and play—especially when the outside world is overwhelming.

Q: How does the Emmaus motto, "Bread for the body, Care for the soul" impact your work?
A: What types of food we eat matters for our physical and mental health; whether we feel seen and heard and valued matter for our emotional and social health. Creating safe and fun spaces is as important as providing healthy nutritious food.

About Breanna: Breanna has been with Emmaus Ministries for four and a half years and is a Benedictine Oblate. She has a Masters degree from Vanderbilt University and a Bachelors degree from St. Norbert College.

Photo: Breanna with Willow at the Kids Cafe