Chad Houser Writes About One Man’s Transformation Sunday Night at Cafe Momentum

Ed. Note: Last Sunday night, while you and I were sitting busy celebrating Cinco de Mayo, Chad Houser was changing the world. 

He is a superhero, changing lives one day at at time through a mission supported by Cafe Momentum fundraising dinners, which sell out in less than one minute. 

Chad carries out his Atlas works quietly. Humbly. Powerfully. And without a lot of fanfare. The at-risk youths he mentors at Cafe Momentum are better for having Chad in their lives. And so are you and I.

Each of the kids that he wraps inside his enormous superhero cape knows that Chad has their back. That Chad can be the role model they never had. That Chad and every one of Cafe Momentum’s volunteers cares about them. Spend a Sunday at a  Cafe Momentum dinner with these kids who have lost their way, and you’ll know it, too. No, you’ll feel it. Deep in your soul.  You will stand up and applaud. You will tear up. And you will want to be a part of it. 

Chad will tell you that when these wayward teenagers complete their assignments with Cafe Momentum, they will have earned not just self-respect, but they will have uncorked the important employment elixers of tenacity, teamwork, kindness, accountability and self-worth.

Read on. Chad will convince you that he and Cafe Momentum are changing lives. And you will want to be a part of it.

Thanks to the folks at Cafe Momentum, these kids will make the world a better place. Quietly. Humbly. Powerfully. And without a lot of fanfare. 

Just like Chad, who really is a superhero. 

Sunday night we talked a lot about mentoring, and how Cafe Momentum plays a unique role in mentoring by exposing our young men to nearly 100 mentors on a nightly basis in the form of you all, our guests and supporters.

There was a story that developed with one of the young men that exemplified that very role, the story of Cameron.  Sunday night was Cameron’s first Cafe Momentum dinner.  As the first course began to roll out from the kitchen, Cameron turned to me and said, “Sir, I’m embarrassed to be here.”  I inquired as to why and he told me how he got in trouble and how he knew that the dinner was a reminder that he had done something bad.  We talked about how 65 people paid $100 (in 8 seconds no less) to be at that dinner. I told him that they did so because they believed in who he is and what he will be, not what he had done.

Cameron began to nervously serve food and was visibly embarrassed when he dropped a fork while clearing a table.  At one point, he confided the same anxieties to a Cafe Momentum volunteer, the incredible Aaron Collins.  Aaron reiterated the same message regarding the special environment that is Cafe Momentum.  Slowly Cameron began to grow comfortable and started working with purpose rather then nervousness.  I’m sure it didn’t hurt that Julie Quaid was engaging him in conversation and compliments every time he found himself serving her table. (THANK YOU, JULIE!)

Halfway through the dinner, Cameron switched form server to kitchen assistant.  Chef Tiffany Derry immediately took him under her wing and set him up working on the applauded banana pudding.

As the evening came to an end, Cameron said two things that drive home the power of Momentum…

First, as the young men were being enthusiastically introduced by Chef Derry, Cameron spoke up in front of the entire room.  Cameron told us all how happy he was to be there and then said, “When we were driving over here we were all talking about what to expect.  I just wanted to greet each of you, thank you for being here, and introduce myself with my first and last name.”  He then began to walk around the dining room, shaking guests hands and thanking them all for being there.As guests began to depart and the guys started bussing the tables, Cameron walked over to Aaron and gave him a hug.  He then said, “I just want to thank you for not thinking that I am just another young dumb black criminal.”As the organizers and spokespeople for Cafe Momentum, we are often asked what our secret is.  What makes the pop-up dinners so special?  How do we sell them out so fast?  How do we create success?The answer is simple.  In the matter of one evening, 65 people filled a room with an energy of hope and inspiration, and because of that energy Cameron was transformed from a teen embarrassed by his past into a young man embracing the hope of his future.Cafe Momentum is an idea that something as simple as a meal can address some of our community’s most pressing problems.  It is an idea that we can “Eat. Drink. Change Lives.”Thank you all for your momentum!
Chad Houser is the c0-founder and head cheerleader of Cafe Momentum. Sign up for future dinners and learn about how they are changing lives here. More about how Chad is changing the world here. A vesrion of this post also appears on CM’s blog.