Building Connection in a Drive-thru World

It started with a Facebook post. Rebeca Nistrian, the new owner of Beca’s Brew on the corner of Bothell-Everett Hwy and NE 191st St, posted to the Bothell Community facebook page last week about her favorite customer Will. Will comes regularly to her coffee stand and spends several hours there talking to her and other customers. In her post, she describes him as “the most positive, ray of sunshine I have ever met. He has taught me to appreciate the simple things that I take for granted and really look on the bright side of things.” Because Will has a mental disability, she has noticed others treating him differently. She posted a plea to the Bothell community, asking if we see Will at her coffee stand or out in the community, to treat him with the respect and dignity he deserves. This post received a staggering 2100 likes and 400+ comments.

In this land of coffee, these small drive-thru coffee stands are perfect for those days when you are on-the-go and need your coffee fast. But people have been swarming to Beca’s Brew, not for a quick transaction, but to speak to Rebeca and meet Will. I spoke with several people who have now made Beca’s Brew their regular coffee spot because of Rebeca’s compassion and courage. “I used to go to Café Ladro down the street, but ever since reading this story and meeting Will, I don’t think I could go anywhere else,” one new patron confided.

The community has truly rallied behind Beca’s Brew and Will. Today, for Will’s birthday, a crowd of community members gathered at Beca’s Brew to surprise Will with a special birthday celebration. I met Will for the first time this morning during the celebration, and I was instantly moved by his excitement and deep gratitude.

This month is Mental Health Month. In recognition of this, and bearing in mind what Will’s story has illuminated in our community, let’s notice those around us, like Will, who may often be overlooked and underappreciated. Let’s grab coffee and have a conversation with someone who lives with a mental health condition. Let’s celebrate their life and appreciate the gift they can be to our community. Believing in the dignity and humanity of all people, let us embrace and stand in solidarity with people living with mental illness.

Rebeca is also the mother of a special needs child, and writes, “I truly struggle with how the world will treat her when she is older and you all have given me peace and assurance that she too will not only be accepted but truly embraced.”

I wonder what would happen in our community if instead of just driving through, getting our coffee, and moving on, we paused for a moment of connection. There are Wills around us every day who are waiting to show us what real community can look like, if only we stopped to notice. None of us really know what kind of community North Creek will become, but this is the kind of story that reflects what a strong, accepting community can look like. So maybe one day when someone asks you, “What kind of place do you live?” you can respond with, “Let me tell you a story about a guy named Will…”

 Thanks to Will, Beca and everyone else who helped tell this story

Thanks to Will, Beca and everyone else who helped tell this story