Holy Joe's free java, tea aids Fort Meade unit ministry teams
Story and photo by Tina Miles
780th MI Brigade, Public Affairs Office
As a result of the combined efforts of Chaplain (Capt.) Ken Harris, 780th Military Intelligence Brigade, and Holy Joe's Café, the Unit Ministry Team stationed on Fort Meade received a truckload of coffee on Friday.
Holy Joe's donated 20 pallets of several brands of K-cup coffee and seven pallets of K-cup tea for distribution to the Unit Ministry Teams as part of the chaplain's ministry plan within their units.
That translates to an average of 180 cases of coffee or tea per pallet, four boxes per case and 24 cups per box.
"Tom Jastermsky and his team at Holy Joe's have helped our UMT reach out across the brigade, down to company levels," Harris said. "You will soon begin to see coffee stations that, as a result of this blessing from Holy Joe's, will be used to reach out to Soldiers and their families."
Harris plans to utilize the donations within the 780th MI Brigade by setting up areas that will not only contain coffee but other Family Life resources as well. They will be open and available during regular business hours.
"We don't want the Soldiers to have to come to our office," Harris said. "We want the resources to be available wherever they are."
Holy Joe's, a ministry of First Congregational Church in Wallingford, Conn., sends coffee and tea to service members in the U.S. and to those deployed worldwide.
First Congregational Church works through chaplains of all military services, at no cost to the Soldier or the government. They solicit donations from their congregation and online to fund their ministry. Everyone involved, from the roasters to the distributors, is a volunteer.
"Coffee has the effect of making the chaplain's space a nice place to hang out. It is in these moments that God and I do our best work, I believe: in casual conversation with no specific agenda," said Chaplain Pete St. Martin in Afghanistan in 2008, who is quoted on Holy Joe's Cafe website.
Holy Joe's flagship brew is General Absolution Roast Coffee.
Harris, who spearheaded the Meade project, first encountered Holy Joe's coffee downrange while serving in Balad, Iraq. Harris contacted Holy Joe's in March with the request of just one pallet for his unit. The contact said, "If you're getting a pallet, why not get a truckload?"
That's when Harris came up with the garrisonwide idea and the collaboration began.
"The coffee came in as a gift to service members through the Fort Meade Chapel Tithes and Offerings fund," Harris said.
Requests for coffee should come in through unit chaplains. "Holy Joe's requires that the coffee be a part of whatever a UMT is already doing," Harris said.
In a joint effort involving Army, Navy, Air Force and National Security Agency chaplains, shipment was set up and a warehouse for delivery acceptance was established. Chaplains postwide arranged for their individual distribution.
"Every unit on Fort Meade has a chaplain providing area coverage, even if there is no chaplain assigned," Harris said.
With all that coffee brewing, all that is left now is for service members to stop by and enjoy a welcoming cup o' Joe.
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