“Coffee is HOW we do what we do, not WHY we do what we do. Coffee draws people but community is why we do what we do…” says Noelle, the founder of AWAKE Communities International (ACI), better known to the public as AWAKE Coffee Community. AWAKE Coffee Community is a coffee shop on the corner, across from the courthouse in Olde Town Conyers. Over coffee, Noelle spoke of her passion that began the dream of ACI. The coffee shop was born out of a desire to create a place where everyone and anyone could gather. A place where people would be known and valued. “I really wanted to create an environment where people could walk in and feel better about themselves,” Noelle says. “America is very richly resourced in a lot of things but very deprived in relationships,” she added. She wanted a place where people could sit around a table and be richly blessed by relationships with others in the community.
Community is an important word to Noelle. She describes it as, “Common unity and even breaking that down farther is the word communion.” Communion is defined in the English Oxford Dictionary as, “…the sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings, especially on a mental or spiritual level.” Noelle thinks of community as a verb. AWAKE is focused on coming together under a common union, which in this case would be coffee. In the midst of community, there are individual stories and AWAKE wants to highlight those stories with the eMetro Times as their vehicle. Noelle says, “There’s something to be discovered in everyone’s stories.” The staff at AWAKE is a volunteer staff. Many have asked why these volunteers keep coming back. If you want to know why they come back, come into the coffee shop ask them why they do what they do. They come back because someone cares about their story. They come back because they have found family. The AWAKE motto is, “Work as a team but live as a family.” Noelle’s vision for Conyers is to be a larger scale of the community that has been developed at AWAKE. Her vision for Conyers ties back to her faith. She desires a place where people come to find out who they are, discover their gifts, become entrepreneurs and to build relationships and community. She sees a city thriving with joy. She sees a hub where people gather to know and be known. She also sees it as a place where people can come to be trained and equipped to create similar communities in other US cities and then eventually abroad as well.
What will you feel when you walk into AWAKE? Noelle is reminded of the 1980’s sitcom called Cheers. AWAKE is a place where everyone knows your name but not only your name, they know you. Jason, the executive director of ACI says, “…its a place where people lift their heads.” AWAKE is a place where you can go to be free from distractions and come to a place where people care about who you are and what you are doing. In different occasions at the coffee shop, Noelle says, “We see people cross denomination lines. We see people even cross religion lines. We see people cross racial lines and come together.” AWAKE is a place with a sense of belonging. The AWAKE staff strives to cultivate an atmosphere of people being fully known and fully loved.
Noelle’s vision for eMetro Times is to continue to give people the good news. “We want to honor the original vision of eMetro Times by the founder, Neal Lange,” she says. Neal Lange originally started the eMetro Times newspaper when he was fed up with seeing all of the bad news in his community all the time. He wanted to see some good stuff because he knew there were good stories out there. Noelle says, “He wanted to get people into a healthy thought pattern about news.” AWAKE’s current goal is to expand readership for eMetro Times. Noelle says, “The more people we can encourage, the more it creates atmospheres like what we have at AWAKE.” They want to be able to start communities like this in more cities in the united states and abroad. They want to bring hope to the world. Joy, Hope and loving people, that’s what AWAKE does. They want to see people happy and filled with joy. Noelle says, “If we can reproduce that in the stories we tell, we plan to do just that and keep the integrity of the paper.” AWAKE wants to applaud and acknowledge the race that has been ran by Alcovy Media with this paper and AWAKE intends to take the baton and run with it!