My name is Karena.
I grew up in Milford, a small town where everyone knew each other. I attended Milford School and graduated from Wawasee High School. I earned a Bachelor of Music Education from Butler University. I came back and married Darren Wilkinson. We lived in Syracuse for 15 years. We moved to Milford in 2015 with our 3 boys.
Children and Community have always played an important role in my life. I worked as a middle school and high school Choir Teacher at West Noble School for 18 years. I have seen the effects that poverty, broken homes, and abuse have had on families. Communities struggle when families struggle. Children today encounter situations and distractions that older generations never dreamed about.
Several years ago, I was planning on going on a missions trip to India to work with an orphanage. When our trip was postponed, God used the preparation I’d gone through for this trip to open my eyes and heart to young people around me. My heart became burdened for the town of Milford. Puzzle pieces were starting to fall into place.
A small group of my family and friends began discussing the need for something to change. Young people were making drastic decisions to end their lives in our communities. Families are falling apart. I shared this with my husband and he came on board to support my decision of possibly retiring from teaching. We couldn’t sit by and watch anymore. What could we do to help? What should I do?
We held a community forum to see if folks in our town had the same burden upon their hearts. I was overwhelmed by the amount of support both financially and physically that we received. Over the next few months, doors flew open to challenges when encountered. Individuals and organizations stepped forward to donate and sponsor items. Our entire shop was set up from the generosity of our community! We signed a rental agreement and spent Spring Break gutting the space. More pieces to our puzzle were falling into place.
I asked my school corporation for a 1 year sabbatical. The administrators were sceptical that it would be approved. One principal asked if it would change my plans if the sabbatical wasn’t passed. I realized as I answered that question that I knew I wouldn’t be back. I love my students but I knew God was placing me into this new endeavor. I finished my last day of school on May 26, 2017. Harvest Coffee opened May 27, 2017.
Our shop has continued to grow and change. We find better ways to reach out to our community. We have hosted community events and plan on hosting many more. We are a non-profit that is partnered with Harvest With A Heart. This year they celebrate their 10th Anniversary! We continue to find new ways to work together.
Our purpose at Harvest Coffee is to create a place where the community, young and old, can come together. We want to encourage our young people to grow into contributing members of society that can help create a strong community. We believe that those who feel a sense of belonging are happier and healthier individuals. We hope to support families and community members by showing friendship, teaching stewardship, encouraging responsibility, creating work ethics, and providing educational opportunities.
God continues to provide in ways far beyond any hopes we had. We have dreams of expanding into a larger space and being able to host after school programs along with many more events.
Owner, Harvest Coffee