Love is the Solution
Cat Cafe & Community Center
Aspire Change, Save Lives
12/19 - Now
“One cat changes coming to an empty house to coming home.”
Welcome to Our Blog !
Our First Six Months & What's to Come !
March 6th, 2021
Where to begin? So much has happened in such a little bit of time. I have hesitated to update because I wanted all of the big decisions to be made before talking about everything that’s going on. But now that we know which direction we are going I feel confident about creating this blog. First I’d like to break things down into a timeline and talk a little bit about all of the wonderful experiences we’ve had since opening.
In August we had our Grand Opening event around the corner from the cat cafe at the Public Library of Roselle Park. It was a beautiful gathering filled with so much love! We started the day off with a healing circle by Heart of Gold Connections, a guided meditation by Nicholas Stanley, and a refreshing class with Lotus Soul Yoga. Then we watched live performances by Eric Contractor, John Mana, Young Bry, IV, Skelly, Myster-E, Savage Writer, Face Cadet, Ryan Chatelain, and closed with an open drum circle. There was amazing art displayed all around by BellaVictoriaArt, Tino F. Cook, Correate Artistry, Alyssa Lopez Artistry, Faithful Henna, Sultana Maria, Jade and ERTH World. We are so grateful for everyone who came out to spend this special day with us! Thank you to all who donated, whether it be your time, love, well wishes, congratulations, funds or cat food/toys/litter etc! We love you all so so much! A few days later the mayor of Roselle Park came to the Cat Cafe and did a ribbon cutting with us and our family. You can tell from the pictures how happy we all were!
The end of the Summer was wonderful! So many people were visiting even without us having much time to do lots of promoting. People were finding out about us through word of mouth of the community which felt terrific. We had our first Adoption, little Spicy found her furever home on the first week. Then that same month Waverly was adopted as well! Soon after that Maggie Moo was adopted, followed by CeCe and then Batz. Each time a cat found a home it was the most fulfilling feeling ever! Though we did have to grow thicker skin because it sure is bittersweet to say goodbye!
In October we hosted our first Urban Renaissance for over a year and it was FANTASTIC! I will be posting another blog soon all about The Urban Renaissance 5 with tons of pictures! But here is the video from the event for you to enjoy. We were blown away by the support and talent shared in this safe space we’ve ALL created collectively over the years. I know that together we can accomplish anything and everything and that my truest home is with all of you!
In November we began hosting the classes and weekly gatherings at the Cat Cafe we planned to offer all along. Every 2nd and 4th Thursday we had Comedy Classes and Performances hosted by Jordan Fried. Every 1st and 3rd Thursday we had a Poetry Writing Workshop with Phyl the Ghost, and we planned to add a Poetry Reading and Analyzing Workshop with Stephanie on the same day. On Fridays Freddy was working on building an Open Mic event. We planned to do one Friday dedicated to featuring one performer or group for the evening, one Friday for Karaoke, and one Friday as a general Open Mic. On Sundays Hadiyah from Lotus Soul Yoga taught yoga and we planned to start hosting art classes on Saturdays as well. These classes were so very inspirational and heartwarming as I felt like I was truly accomplishing what I set out to do. Uniting the community through these creative outlets while saving and loving cats was the most incredible feeling. Seeing the looks on people’s faces as they made unique connections alongside the cutest companions made my days and life complete.
Unfortunately once the Covid numbers began to climb as the weather cooled down we had less and less numbers coming to classes. Instructors were unable to travel for such small gatherings and so we unfortunately had to pause them for the Winter. On the other hand our partner Deana's Rescue in Jersey City has been absolutely booming. They have been getting multiple adoptions a week and even had to pick up cats from the Cat Cafe for prospective adoptive parents who live in the City and don’t drive. Tennessee, Tiffany, Wynona, were all adopted that way. I started to realize that if things continued this way it would be a great inconvenience for Deana to have to come from Jersey City to pick up cats.
Many were aware of this next part, and many were not. The space neighboring us that once had a doorway connected to our cafe (that could easily be reopened) became available in May when the pandemic hit. Understandably, Deana was unable to jump into another location after investing so much into the cat cafe. I have always discussed opening a Vegan Cafe and Bodega with one of my close friends Sarah and so I brought the idea up to her. She actually just lost her job due to COVID and had a good amount of savings. It was the perfect time for her to partner with us and commit to the team with her husband. We began planning and working out the budget to make sure we could afford it. By the time we completely decided and gave the landlord the deposit it was mid December. I was excited because I knew having a full vegan cafe with a real menu (and eventually a bodega and local art shop) would drive in so much more foot traffic and adoptions. I was SO ready to finally offer food and drinks- because so far we had just been calling ourselves a cafe without anything to show for it. Since the space became available early on we didn’t bother to buy a giant fridge or vending machine for drinks or snacks because if we did indeed open up next door we would have needed an entirely different fridge and set up. So we found ourselves in somewhat of a ‘soft opening’ stage. Not to mention continuously finishing up unplanned projects and solving problems that came up as we went along. Wow did we learn a lot!
Some of my favorite parts of this transition stage was when friends would visit and made us feel really great about the space and what we were doing. I absolutely loved when children visited and how enthralled and ecstatic they would be to spend time with the cats. I loved to host families who were happy spending their quality time together surrounded by cats. We were lucky to meet many neighbors and residents of Roselle Park who came to support our new and small shelter and business. And Nothing beat finally finding my favorite cat Sunkist aka Garfield a home! I am so honored to have helped the coolest boy find his furever family this February.
Another beautiful memory from February was hosting our Galentine’s Day event. There were vegan snacks from Two Ques Cafe, drinks, a craft table, and poetry performances that inspired nearly everyone in the room to share something they created! What a stunning experience I had with some of the most powerful women I’ve been lucky enough to meet. Thank you all for the laughs and love, I can’t wait to keep hosting these events every year!
So here comes the sad news that we turned into good news. After we gave the deposit for the space next door, the landlord went away to his home country Ukraine for the month of January. He didn’t end up making an appointment to meet with us until the second week of February. Unfortunately he was under the impression that we would be paying him from December on, even though no lease had been signed, and no keys were ever given to us. If we knew those were his expectations we would’ve been in the space working on it and preparing to open by now. We would have been purchasing everything that needed for the cafe, some of which would take weeks to ship and arrive. Those months of rent would have equated to 25% of our total budget and was simply not something we could afford. So we had to pull out of these plans and it seems as though the landlord is actually ghosting us and not planning to return the security deposit. We will have to go to court to fight for it and we will absolutely win since he never gave us a key, lease, move in date, or any indication or communication regarding anything at all. Also, the front window of our Cat Cafe cracked sometime in December and the landlord never fixed it. He continuously promised to fix the window as the months passed by. We no longer felt comfortable with this kind of relationship and energy that the owner unnecessarily created. We felt very motivated to figure something else out.
The Something Else…
So I began to think about everything that had happen over the last six months. I thought about Deana’s rescue and how she’s had to come down to the cat cafe to get cats for adopters who live far away. Sarah and her husband Eric live in Kearny which is only 15 minutes from Jersey City. The amount of time, energy and effort Deana and her rescue will save with this move is insurmountable. Transporting cats will be a breeze! Not to mention she will be able to send her employees and volunteers to help and make things easier for us. We can be patient until we find the perfect place and everything will be split three ways rather than Freddy and I splitting two separate stores with two different partners. Now that we have gone through the set up process once, we know exactly what to do and what to expect moving forward. Also, with the added help and support of Sarah, Eric, and Deana's team- the idea of opening in Jersey City doesn't seem scary or impossible at all!
We decided to pull out of the location in Roselle Park after our BE RIGHT BACK event on March 21st. We will be renting the large space next door with at least 10 performances, 10 vendors, and more special guests for you to enjoy! Closing for now in Roselle Park will give us time to really focus on getting the new space ready while we save money. We really can’t wait to have a way bigger space for the cats, for the community, the events, for yummy vegan food and drinks, and everything else we dream of seeing happen! Excited to make a litter room that will be totally out of sight and out of mind, away from the cafe in every way lol! We only have to leave behind the paint on the walls, the isolation room we had constructed, and the hard work Freddy put into creating Cambria's Haven - but it will be worth it when we are able to be able to do what we truly set out to accomplish while saving so many more Cats by finding them their loving furever homes!
We feel so supported and strengthened by this journey and everyone who has been present for it. I am so ready to expand and build! Thank you so much for rocking with us and for all of your love - we feel it every day!
All of the Love,
ONE Week Away
From the BIG DAY !
August 6th, 2020
Happy to say that this will be the last blog I post before the grand opening! I am so excited to share this special update! We OFFICIALLY PASSED ALL INSPECTIONS! We passed the Health Inspection and it was the biggest breath of fresh air I've ever had. That was the last piece of the puzzle standing in our way and it was a huge deal because so many aspects of the business had to revolve around this inspection.
Once we passed that it became so much more REAL and confirmed that we are finally there. Through all of the roadblocks we have always believed we would make it through, but it was definitely daunting and exhausting. This has been the hardest thing I've ever done in my life but it has already been more than worth it. Freddy finished the final things needed to be done (although honestly there's always new things that present themselves), and I set everything up in the space in preparation for the cats.
We began to move the cats in a two at a time. Two cats didn't adjust well. One wouldn't leave the bathroom, another was going outside of the litter box, and third was actually adopted!!! We now have four lovely cats and will have two more tomorrow! Once we began moving in the cats, and scheduled the WIFI and Internet to be installed, we were able to come up with a date for the grand opening. It will be Friday August 14th and Saturday August 15th from 11am - 7pm. You can stop by anytime and visit our cats for the first time!
On August 16th we'll be having a gathering to celebrate the opening at Nomahegan Park, Pin Oaks Picnic from 1pm - 7pm. If it rains we will reschedule this to August 23rd. We ask that EVERYONE practice SAFE Social Distancing! We will have Performances, a Gallery by Local Artists who will be Painting Live, Yoga, Meditation, Drum Circles and Amazing company! Check out Everyone Contributing to this Celebration!
Other updates are we finally paid for the work done for the isolation room so we no longer have to think about that anymore. We removed the blinding fluorescent lights and installed ceiling fans. We started filling the Consignment shop shelves and in the process of getting the funds together so that we may stock the rest of the shelves with Cruelty Free Ethically Sourced products. We set up the first display for our Rotating Gallery. Freddy put up the Banner across the top of our shop. And of course tons and tons of care and cleaning up after the cats!
June 19th, 2020
Thank you to everyone who has reached out to us to check on us and see how we were doing throughout these scary months. We are so grateful to our landlord for allowing us to pay back the rent overtime so we did not have to lose the space or all of our investment and hard work. We are so grateful for the support, love and care that our community has for us. We can only do it because of you!We haven’t updated for a while because much like most of the world Cambria’s Haven was in a bit of a limbo mode. Thankfully we have some good news to share. Last week we were able to schedule the inspection for the certificate of occupancy and we PASSED! Now we have ONE more inspection and it’s scheduled for the first week of July. Once we pass that we can move in the cats and two weeks later we’ll be able to open! We are not sure if we will be hosting the grand opening as originally planned due to social distancing precautions. However- we will definitely be opening! So phewww that’s great news. While introducing the cats to the space we will be putting up the art of our first featured artist on our gallery wall. We will be accepting items to sell in our consignment shop from local artists. We’ll be purchasing a commercial fridge and slowly stocking our shelves with an inventory of the items Cambria’s Haven will have to offer. We will be contacting all of the wonderful individuals who wanted to host classes and events at Cambria’s Haven to plan how we can continue to work together. If you have an artist, organization, or small business in mind, please share our contact information and we’d love to reach out to them!
As for The Urban Renaissance, we were unable to host this wonderful event this Spring or Summer. We are hoping that we will be able to pull it off in the Fall. We will be monitoring the status of COVID19 and make a decision based on the safety of everyone. If you already paid anything towards UR5 and want a refund please contact us and we will provide you with one immediately. If we are unable to do the festival in the fall we will refund everyone automatically.
I want to take this time to say that Cambria’s Haven stands with The Black Lives Matter Movement and we are deeply moved and proud of everyone who is standing up against the horrific injustices and corruption that has infiltrated nearly every aspect of life. We feel this revolution is long overdue and hope this is just the beginning of the biggest Civil Rights and Human Rights movement in history. Please reach out to us anytime to discuss ways we may help and support The Black Lives Matter Movement.
Thank you to everyone who has reached out to us to check on us and see how we were doing throughout these scary months. We are so grateful to our landlord for allowing us to pay back the rent overtime so we did not have to lose the space or all of our investment and hard work. We are so grateful for the support, love and care that our community has for us. We can only do it because of you!
All of the Love,
Weathering the Storm
March 26th, 2020
I wanted to hold off on writing another blog until I was able to post the official Grand Opening Date, however I think it's safe to say with the Corona Virus that we are still a ways away from that.
So last time I updated here we were completing the last steps so that we could have inspections done and finally open asap! Well, we completed the isolation room, the exhaust system, the entryway, and passed the initial isolation room inspection, as well as electrical inspection. Unfortunately didn't pass the plumbing or construction/fire inspections. The landlord failed to limit how hot the water of the sink by a certain degree, so we had to wait until last Monday for that to get resolved. We also needed to move our exit sign up a bit higher so that the shelving unit to the left of it wasn't blocking the sign from any point of vision in the room. Very unfortunately, when we resolved these two things within less than a week of the first inspection, the virus really hit and everything shut down.
I am Thankful that the Cat Cafe is actually, really, finally complete at the moment. With these extra days off and being out of work we were able to install the tables, set up any remaining furniture, clean up really really well, put curtains up, put rules on the wall, print and laminate all paperwork needed, and so much more. We met with the vet Maria who will be overseeing the health of the cats and she signed the paperwork necessary. We also met with an exterminator who signed the paperwork stating he'll come on a monthly basis to make sure we never have any unwanted critters. One last project we might complete is gutting out the front ledge by the window and placing kitty litter boxes inside of that space, which would give the cats more space in the kitty litter room.
The space looks great and feels amazing! We are just missing the CATS! We also can't wait to get the photos of cats and the gallery wall hung up. The shelves are also a bit bare since we have to wait until the virus passes to meet with local artists who will display their work at our consignment shop section. The shelves by the coffee machine will have snacks for sale, but those won't be stocked until we recuperate some of the funds we've spent :(
COVID19 has impacted us greatly as we are completely self employed and expect to be out of work for the next month or two. Normally, Freddy and I have always had a decent savings to draw from during hard times and at an earlier time on any other occasion we could have put our feet up and taken this as an unexpected break and time for relaxation. Ironically we spent our last dime on the Cat Cafe, and were living much like check to check except with our work its job to job. We were finally done with expenses and ready to keep working hard to recuperate our funds. We had an airtight plan and budget with very little wiggle room. We were also financially dependent upon the Grand Opening, starting the Cat Cafe off with a BANG, and hosting The Urban Renaissance 5 on April 18th. Unfortunately we had to reschedule UR5 to June 13th and postpone the Grand Opening until further notice. So the financial implications of all this are stressful. We have done our best to remain calm, be frugal, cook all our meals at home, and of course quarantining keeps us from spending any extra money. I've called all of our bills to make sure everything is on hold until May (except car insurance) which is extremely helpful. We are lucky we have family and friends to turn to if worse comes to worst. We are also grateful to have each other. We often long to spend this kind of uninterrupted time together as we've been doing this week. Slowing down has been a nostalgic, refreshing opportunity to reminisce over simpler times, when it was just he and I, living on our own in California or Colorado, soaking in each others presence and enjoying every moment of it. It's extraordinary to have found my best friend and life partner in someone who flows with me so effortlessly and harmoniously. I love you Freddy <3
Once this virus passes we will schedule the Inspection as soon as humanly possible and then we can finally have the Health Department come as well. Luckily they have already come once to assess the space and would be willing to come again before final inspection once this is all over to make sure we have everything we need and pass the first time. We are so grateful to the Health Department of Roselle Park for working so closely with us throughout this process and helping to make sure that we get to the finish line!
It's looking like we'll be having our special opening in the end of Spring or Early Summer, right before we celebrate getting through it all at The Urban Renaissance 5! I think that UR5 is going to be one of the most important and monumental moments for me because not only will it mean that we are finally OPEN, but we will have gotten through one of the craziest and scariest times I've ever experienced - and we got through it together <3
I'm going to spend this Quarantine time preparing for the Urban Renaissance V, completing interviews I originally thought I wasn't going to have time for, creating chalk board signs by hand for the Cat Cafe and The Urban Renaissance, look for remote and online work for myself and Freddy, work on our home, promote our Three R's business, get all of our 2019 taxes done, and finally organize the thousands of pictures I have on my hard drive. Freddy and I are also working on a mashup of two songs and I want to practice my clarinet while he plays his instruments. We've been playing board games and spending lots of much needed quality time talking and connecting. We've also been eating really well since we have ample time to prepare meals. We have completely cut out ALL gluten and dairy, processed foods and heavy sugars, and we feel UNSTOPPABLE. It has revolutionized our entire being and we have absolutely no interest in eating those foods at all because of how wonderful we feel. The only thing we need to add to the mix is a good work out routine and more time outdoors. We have been reading the book The Peaceful Warrior together each day, and meditating once a day as well which we'd like to increase to twice. We also want to create more and start painting again! We truly hope that with everyone getting the chance to slow down the world will realize how important it is to carve time out for ourselves and what helps us heal and feel human! We hope that everyone is safely at home and practicing social distancing <3 Please contact us if you are in need of any help! WE LOVE YOU ALL!
All of the Love,
FriendsGiving & The FrontLines
February 5th, 2020
We had an amazing time putting together this years FriendsGiving. Two Ques hosted and catered for us with a delicious Vegan menu that included so many Amazing treats! Black bean empanadas, Eggplant in Marinara Sauce, Mac and Cheeze, Collard Greens, Crispy Tofu, Veggie Rice, Squash sauteed, Curry Chic Peas, Asparagus, Baked cakes and more! We had an Arts & Crafts corner that was active the entire night with creativity. Freddy was the Host and DJ, he led another energetic drum circle, and organized a few performances by local artists. We ate, we sang, we danced, and we created together. Pleiiides provided us all with a guided meditation that I felt deeply and am extremely grateful to have been a part of! One of my favorite parts of the evening was seeing everyone connecting with one another. There were barely any phones out unless someone was recording or snapping a pic, and it made me really happy to see everyone so engaged throughout the evening. We were able to raise $300 that evening towards Cat Cafe expenses which was a tremendous help in this process! Thank you infinitely to everyone who came out to enjoy some quality time in community! We are building a family together and so proud of every moment!
"The Frontlines is an Open Mic of growth, encouragement and reinforcement. When you enter our threshold you feel safe and acknowledged. The intention is to raise the flame that roams within so that we can burn bright through our music, poetry and congregation." - FACEcadet
So far Freddy and his partner Comrade Classen have hosted 3 open mics called The Frontlines and they have all been a success! I am so proud of the safe and loving space that they have created for the community to connect and express themselves. It's stunning to see all of these different open mics all over Jersey blossoming and unfolding into these networking hubs and family reunions. Rows of seats of inspired faces both familiar and new. We learn from one another while we replenish and lift each other up. The tremendous diversity of the Tri-State area makes for the most interesting and exciting evenings because every genre is present! You'll hear poetry, prose, singing, rapping, bands, acoustic, electronic, comedy, dance and more! We are ecstatic to continue growing and expanding this movement of true self expression. We are grateful to everyone who supports local open mics and who made it possible for Audio Bros to build The Frontlines with you! We look forward to seeing you all!
"To me, The Frontlines is where anyone can fight for their spirit to be heard. To perform in front of others at any stage is not easy, and it takes a certain amount of bravery and courage to do so. The Frontlines is where you can fight the side that self criticizes, cause everyone there is aware of the struggle. It's to show that we are all brothers and sisters in this great fight within our hearts!" - FACEcadet
(Original Title: 'The Final Steps' - Changed to :)
We're ALMOST There!!!
January 20th, 2020
I was holding off on putting this blog together because I really wanted to share so much content along with the official Grand Opening Weekend dates. However, as time is passing and the Grand Opening is drawn a bit further passed our expectations I decided to take a moment to update on our progress so far. I'll be back soon with our opening weekend dates, along with a blog about the FriendsGiving and Frontlines events we have hosted with Two Ques Cafe this season.
Since our last blog we have made so much important progress! The required isolation room with exhaust system is complete with the help of the Landlord who was able to resolve the issues we were having. Now we are waiting for the inspection of the work done by the city's Construction Department. Tomorrow we will meet with a member of the Health Department who will go over what I need to pass inspection so that the process is smooth and easy. I will clarify with him that all of the information I provide for guests is accurate and then I'll be able to print and laminate all of that paperwork to be ready for the Cat Cafe. Once we schedule the Health Department's inspection we will have a better estimate about the Grand Opening date. Our partner Deana will be dropping off the Kennels this week along with all other cat resources we'll need. She is also raising donations for our Amazon cart and helping us get everything we need: AMAZON CAT CAFE NECESSITIES WISH LIST. These items will be ordered and arriving for us to set up throughout the next two weeks.
We have fully painted the place in an array of colors and designs that I am extraordinarily happy with :D People kept asking me if the color scheme I planned might clash or be too much- and I honestly just went with my gut even though I wasn't fully sure. In the end the idea really worked for the space and I can't wait to see the end results once everything else is done.
Our amazing friends Raul aka Chino, Hank, Brian aka Turkey and Alan have helped us so much so far! We were able to create the kitty litter room with an automatic cat door. We weren't able to make a real room in the space because of the expensive permits required, so we remodeled a cat run that is the a great size for it! We are so happy with the finished product. Deana will be dropping off the litter boxes soon, and a good friend of ours is going to paint a mural on the outside of the room this week. We have connected with artists who want to donate all of the cat paintings we need for the space and are forever grateful to them!!! We have to drop some canvas' off this week and the remaining paintings are either completed or in progress.
Freddy built the bookshelves we need to create divisions and display local items for sale. We thought it was a good idea to reinforce the shelves with better hardware just because we know that Ikea is rumored to have mediocre quality where things like that are concerned. We don't want the pieces to collapse at any point. With the bookshelf placed permanently in the front of the space Freddy and I can plan and purchase needs for the cat gate that will separate the entryway from the Cafe, and keeps the cats safe from escaping outside.
Right now Freddy and Hank are painting the walls and redoing the floor of the bathroom. Freddy will also install storage shelves in the back corner and all of the cat wall mounts. They'll finish this tomorrow while I will be deep cleaning the entire place. I purchased blanket fabric to attach to the large ledge that is already there to give the cats a comfy place to relax.
This week we'll be mounting a television & speakers, a giant 4 month calendar, erase boards, guiding signs, a list of rules at entrance, and all other photos, paintings, and posted information. We hope to obtain a projector and screen to be installed before we open or shortly after. I'm currently in the process of getting the banner for the outside done and hope to have that displayed by the end of the month. Then we'll paint the outside of the door a bright color that matches the banner. We also still have to purchase the coffee cabinet and the commercial refrigerator.
This week I will also make the official first list of prepackaged food and drinks that we will order to have for sale. I will be confirming the list of all artists who will be a part of the consignment shop shelves, rotating gallery wall, print rack, and clothing rack, as well as what items they plan to feature. Throughout this entire process I have been meeting with talented local artists, instructors, and inspirational people who wish to collaborate with Cambria's Haven to conduct a class, event or community experience. We have been coming up with a schedule and I'll be able to share that with the next blog.
Then it's just the finishing touches and we can begin bringing in the cats! We won't bring all of the cats at once so the process may take a week or so. Once we are ready for the cats we can make a solid plan for the Grand Opening, create the flyer and invitations, and TELL EVERYONE! We want to be able to invite everyone two weeks prior to the date so everyone has a chance to make it. The Grand Opening will happen throughout an entire weekend and will be Catered by Two Ques Cafe.
I feel like I'm forgetting something but for now that's all for our updates so far! CHECK BACK for our next blog where we will finally share a Grand Opening Date for Cambria's Haven, along with pictures and video from our FriendsGiving and Frontlines Open Mic events. There is nothing we have looked forward to more!!!
All of the Love,