JAC surpasses $18,000 mark

Charleston community members successfully raised $19,168 for Jackson Avenue Coffee Wednesday, earning about $1,200 more than the shop needed to pay off their state tax debt.

The JAC will pay its $18,000 debt to the state and preserve what customers consider to be a sanctuary for the Charleston community at 9 a.m. Thursday in Springfield.

A line of loyal customers trailed out the door of the JAC at 6 p.m. when the event started to show their support for the coffee shop.

Those who waited in the cold to make their donations included high school and college students, friends and family of the owners, as well as artists and musicians who display their work in the shop.

Dano Reible, owner of the JAC, said the benefit’s turnout was proof of the shop’s significance in town.

“This is a direct correlation to how important that the JAC is to the community,” Reible said. “This wouldn’t be happening if there wasn’t a true heartfelt commitment to it in this community.”

Donna Wieck, a Charleston community member, said the JAC is an important piece of the town, most notable as a safe-haven for its younger residents.

“It’s a place where college kids can come and it’s a homey, cozy place to be,” Weick said. “It’s just a nice feeling to drive by and see people sitting out here.”

Barb Hunter, a Charleston resident, agreed, stating the JAC has consistently been a safe place for young people to pass their time.

“It really is a community resource for us parents who have teenagers,” Hunter said. “I had a daughter that went to high school in this town, and she and friends would meet up here and meet up when she comes home.”

Reible said he was amazed how quickly the fundraiser came together.

“Naturally, this puts me out there and it says, ‘I couldn’t do it,’” he said.

Pride aside, Reible said he does not mind reaching out to the community for financial help.

“It doesn’t bother me,” Reible said. “I don’t care. It’s all about the JAC. It’s not about me.”

Reible’s wife, Vicki Reible, reminisced about her experience owning the coffee shop with her husband and the impression she believes it has made in her own life.

“We wanted to give back to the community,” she said. “We always wondered what our purpose in life was, and this seemed to be it— a way to give back.”

Vicki Reible said the JAC has become her second home, and the “blessing” of watching the younger community members grow up has created the illusion of a second family as well.

Throughout the event, customers were encouraged to take the stage and perform music as well as give testimonies expressing their appreciation for the business.

Yvonne Larson, a Charleston resident, shared that she believes her 7-year-old daughter, Gretta, is one of the JAC’s biggest advocates.

“She found out by coming here that she has the blues inside of her,” Larson said.

She explained that after visiting the JAC, Gretta began composing original songs such as the, “’I Don’t Want to go to Bed’ Blues” and taking a great interest in the harmonica.

Upon discovering Gretta’s love for the blues, Reible voluntarily fed her curiosity by teaching her a new song each week.

Gretta, who just celebrated her seventh birthday, donated all of her birthday money to the JAC.

The Larsons are not the only family to find artistic support from the JAC, however.

Ian Phillips, a poet and a Charleston resident, said he met the Reibles through friends, and they have since shown nothing but support of his poetry.

“It’s kind of like a hippie network, I guess,” Phillips said. “Once I got to meet him, it was just a good thing.”

Phillips recently published his first collection of poems titled “69 Poems” and offered 50 percent of the book’s profits to whatever the Reibles could not raise.

Melanie Mills, a communications professor and coordinator of the event, said she was immediately willing to help the business and knew others in the community would want to take part.

“We have always known that Dano and Vicki do this as community service first and business second,” she said.

Mills said she believes the JAC’s service to the community was the motivation for people support the business the way they have.

“The community has been very forgiving,” she said. “The community recognizes this is more than a coffee shop.”

Katie Smith can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]