- July 24, 2020
At House Blend Cafe in Ocoee, the motto always has been, “Others above self.”
That phrase rings true now more than ever worldwide, as thousands of people and essential workers mobilize to fight the coronavirus and help those affected by it in various ways.
House Blend Cafe believes in eating good and doing good, and 100% of the net profit goes back to the community. So, when Hunter’s Creek resident Natalia Nardone reached out to the cafe a couple of weeks ago inquiring about purchasing and donating meals to health care workers, the cafe and its staff were ready and willing.
Although Nardone doesn’t live in the West Orange County community, her connection with House Blend Cafe was born out of a desire to provide meals to hospital workers.
Nardone posted on her Facebook page about wanting to reach out to a hospital and make a meal delivery. She collected some money from friends to pay for the meals, and she and her husband spotted the difference. In fact, her husband pressure washed houses and sidewalks for donations only.
The next step was finding the right local business with which to partner. When her friend suggested House Blend Cafe and told Nardone about their philosophy, she decided to give them a call.
“I’ve never eaten there and never heard of them prior to this,” Nardone said. “I was thinking I was just going to call a business and place an order, and (Manager Jonathan Daigle) was just so willing to help me, and not only to help me but to ... feed more people.”
Daigle, one of House Blend’s managers, answered Nardone’s call and took it a step further. He and his staff loved the idea of being able to help provide meals to those on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. They want to provide as many meals as possible.
House Blend Cafe now has a donation link on its website that accepts money specifically for the purpose of feeding hospital workers.
“This is why we exist — it’s to help our community,” Daigle said. “The thing that’s great about it, of course, is we can give (hospital workers) not just a meal, but for us our product is healthy, it’s sometimes locally sourced.”
As of press time, the cafe and community’s partnership allowed House Blend to prepare and deliver 200 meals to hospital workers at Orlando Health’s Health Central Hospital in Ocoee, AdventHealth Altamonte Springs and Orlando Health’s Dr. P. Phillips Hospital.
“This is just another direct outlet of a very tangible need,” Daigle said. “It’s the reason our organization is in the food business — it’s to create that environment of being welcomed, loved and cared for. We can’t think of a better way of doing that than feeding people.”
Nardone and Daigle play different roles in this joint outreach, but the goal remains the same — to let health care workers know that they are appreciated and loved, and to acknowledge their needs during this time, too.
For Daigle and his staff, the hope is to be able to do multiple deliveries each week.
“Just because you’re home (doesn’t mean) you can’t still be involved in your community,” Daigle said. “Here’s a way you can impact them now. You don’t have to let up on that desire to help.”
The reactions from hospital staff who have been blessed with the community’s generosity through House Blend thus far are those of gratitude.
Nardone also has been contacted by Ocoee resident Cortne Oser, owner of LuBelle’s Cakes, who wanted to make a contribution of cookies with cute decorations. Some of them read, “Thank you,” and others say, “Best nurse/doctor ever!” Oser donated them to a hospital in Winter Park.
Daigle added that hospital workers have been surprised and delighted, often sending selfies with or group photos holding up signs that read, “Thank you!”
“We’re just happy that we can be an avenue for the community to get involved,” Daigle said. “Our ability to continue to donate more meals is based on the community’s ability to donate. It was because of people getting involved by still frequenting our business through this that has allowed us to be available to offer these meals.”