God's Grounds provides Soldiers coffee, perspective
November 9, 2009
CONTINGENCY OPERATING LOCATION ADDER, Iraq - Soldiers at Contingency Operating Location Adder, Iraq, have a steady supply of caffeine, courtesy of God's Grounds, a cafAfA run by the chapel here.
God's Grounds offers free coffee, snacks and a place to relax from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., every day.
Since July, Sgt. Carlos A. Bourne, an ammunitions specialist with the 664th Ordnance Company out of Fort Hood, Texas, has volunteered full-time at God's Grounds. The cafAfA was founded as a respite for Soldiers, somewhere to get away from the daily stressors of deployed life, said Bourne, a Miami native.
Some of the snacks are ordered through the Army supply system, but the cafAfA is primarily kept stocked with donations made by individuals, units that are leaving or care packages sent as donations from back home, he said.
Although the cafAfA is supported by the chapel, it is not a religious facility, said Bourne.
"It says God's Grounds ... it is God's coffee grounds," he said. "That is just the name. They are not going to have a Bible thrown at them just because they come in here."
Maj. Stephen Broadus, the chaplain with the 401st Armor Brigade out of Fort Bliss, Texas, and the installation chaplain at COL Adder, said God's Grounds gives the chaplains a chance to interact with Soldiers in a relaxed environment.
"Part of the chaplain's job is morale, to assess the morale of the unit," said Broadus, a Biloxi, Miss., native. "I think it is a good morale builder, where Soldiers can come and get a free cup of coffee, or espresso, or something to begin their day, or (something) during the afternoon.
"We have chaplains come in and out, just at odd times, and you never know what kind of conversation you can strike up to help a Soldier who may be in need."
Broadus said the cafAfA receives no shortage of supplies, but struggles to find volunteers.
"We are coming up on a time when some of our key volunteers are leaving," he said.
God's Grounds has two full-time volunteers - Bourne and Spc. Leti T. Togia, a human resource specialist and administrator with the 664th Ord. Co., and a Pago Pago, Samoa, native, both of whom are redeploying in the near future. They said they are nervous about leaving with no replacement volunteers to take their place.
"If we run out of volunteers, then this place will get shut down," Bourne said.
Togia has volunteered at God's Grounds for about six months. She said the cafAfA is a peaceful reminder of home, and she sometimes comes to the cafAfA even when she is not working to relax and reduce stress, she said.
"When my roommate gets on my nerves, I come here," she said.
Broadus said chaplains have a job that is difficult to measure with numbers or statistics, but he believes that God's Grounds is a facility that helps him accomplish his mission.
"Sometimes what we do as chaplains, and even here at God's Grounds, is an intangible thing," he said. "How many Soldiers have we touched' How many days have we made a little bit better' It is kind of hard to put a number on that, but I would say more than we know."