RECORD LOW TEMPERATURES inspired Owosso’s O-Town Café owners, Steve and Amber Cohen, to open their popular business to the homeless population as a warming center – and that has made an enormous difference this week to the 25 individuals who desperately needed an escape from the life-threatening cold.
The Cohens will continue the 24-hour-a-day vigil through Friday night into Saturday morning. If needed, they plan to offer it again, but hopefully the cold spell will pass.
“This community has been so important in supporting this crazy idea I had,” Amber shared in a conversation on Thursday, Jan. 31. Eighteen volunteers have stepped up to assist the Cohens in this critical endeavor, along with Homeless Angels of Owosso director Shelly Ochodnicky. “It seems like every Joe and Mo from around the area has come forward and made donations to help out,” Amber expressed her gratitude. Some contributing businesses include Kroger, Domino’s and Subway.
People who have found respite at the warming center through the cold spell have included both men and women, ages 28 through 60.
O-Town Café’s normal hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. The business continues to offer a “suspended” meals/drinks program in a “pay-it-forward” style. Visitors are welcome to stop in for a meal with the opportunity to then make a contribution for a meal for someone in need. It is important to note the restaurant is a family-owned business, not a nonprofit, so taxes have to be considered. The Cohens are quite simply just eager to help out.
(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)