We turned 4!


We turned 4!

4 years ago today, the doors of the Rowland Arts Center for Teens opened to the youth of our community. It has been an incredible & humbling adventure every day since. I have grown professionally, but more importantly, I've grown as a person.  

A few lessons I’ve learned: 

The best investment you can make is in people. In my experience, that investment never returns void. Either you grow, the other person does, or most likely, both of you do. 

There are no shortcuts, just hard work. A lesson my father tried to teach me, that as an adult has become a daily truth. 

Kids are not as dumb/lazy/entitled/etc. as many believe or think they are. More often than not, the students I’ve worked with are incredibly smart, work harder than I did when I was their age, and more than anything want a better life than their current circumstances. Often times these students just need someone to believe in them. 

I'm forever grateful for everyone who has volunteered here and supported the RAC- y'all made this dream a reality. These last 4 years have been a blast. 


Joseph Miller // Executive Director


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National Suicide Prevention Week- by Chanda Scobee

“I can’t believe someone so happy could actually be so sad.” Over and over again, people were shocked by the death of Robin Williams, but not just because of the loss of an incredible man, but because his death was not an accident and it was not at someone else’s hand. 

People muttered things like, “Who would’ve ever thought?” and “That’s unbelievable.” What they don’t realize is that every 40 seconds this happens again. Maybe not to a celebrity, maybe not even to someone you know, but every 40 seconds a mother, a father, a friend, a child, a classmate, a co-worker dies by choice.

This phenomenon is not new. While suicide rates have increased over the last few years, suicide has always been a problem. Perhaps the reason that suicide is so rampant right now is because the stigmas surrounding mental illness, which is the leading cause to suicide, are so often just brushed aside and condemned.

While it is common for most people to stray away from the controversy of mental illness, not everyone does. To Write Love On Her Arms is a nonprofit movement, which began in 2006, that is dedicated to presenting hope and help for people who are struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. They want to spread the message that treatment and recovery is real and possible, and also to spread awareness that “you are not alone” and attempts to create a more positive sense of community and help.

For me, TWLOHA is a lifesaver, not just because of their persistence in the spreading of hope, but because of the opportunities they allow others to have, in order to help other people. TWLOHA allowed me to host The Storytellers campaign my senior year of high school, in which I was able to spread awareness for the reality of mental illness, rather than the stigma. I was able to share my own story of struggles, in order to help others come out with their own secrets, so that they too could find healing and hope.

I am happy to say that I am, today, truly happy and stable, and I never shy away from an opportunity to glitter that hope onto another person. I think that secrets can kill us, and that it is vital to be open and honest about struggles. If everyone walks around with a pretty smile on their face and mutter a nonchalant “I’m fine, thank you,” when actually they aren’t, this won’t create a generation of happy people, but instead will create a generation of masks and lies, which only feed the dark parts of us. I believe that the light in us must be illuminated and must shine so that everyone can see.

While TWLOHA is not officially affiliated with Christianity, they do spread Christian principles and often reference to the hope and strength of God in overcoming struggles. Personally for me, I know that even with the message of hope that TWLOHA provides, without my faith and reliance on God, I would not be the breathing vessel of hope that I am today. I am thankful that God has saved me and rescued me, and that He has burdened my heart to be “a beacon of hope for the little girl who has none,” as said by Demi Lovato, who also is a huge advocate for awareness for mental illness. 

She spreads the message of hope through her 365-day book, Staying Strong. She openly admits to her own struggles and gives a message of hope for everyday of the year. Personally, this book was a huge contribution to my own recovery because of the honesty and encouragement she provides.

While you may think suicide may not directly affect you, it does. You never know who is struggling with these haunting thoughts. It could very well be the quiet girl who sits in the back of class, who persistently wears long sleeves despite how hot it is outside. Maybe it is your neighbor who just lost his job and his marriage is falling apart at the seams. It could be your 7th grade teacher whose husband died 3 months ago. It could even be your little sister who just lost her best friend because she found better friends. 

The truth is, you never know what a person is going through and how that is affecting them, which is precisely why you should always be the sunrays to someone’s tempestuous storm. Your contribution, your smile, your encouragement could be the very thing that saves someone’s life.

by Chanda Scobee

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Let's Celebrate!

2 years. Wow.

It seems like yesterday I was returning to Winchester after spending 5 and a half months living the dream out on the Appalachian Trail. After some quality time reuniting with my wife and dog, we ventured out to downtown. She couldn't wait to show me the Cairn. It was almost open. I couldn't wait to see it either...and have a great cup of coffee! As we pulled up to the front of the building, my memories of a big empty room quickly vanished as I took my first steps into something that felt like the luxury version of my home for those previous 5 months. Beautiful stonework and reclaimed barn wood adorned the room and invited me in to want to spend all of my waking hours here. Little did I know that would soon be the case.

The next few days carried a lot of excitement as the doors were getting ready to officially open for the masses coming into town for the Pioneer Festival. With a handful of excited staff and volunteers, lattes with names like Maclear's Beacon and Steinmann were flying off the counter. Customers lined out the door, not only to try Winchester's best lattes, but to also see what in the world a coffee shop owned and operated by a church would look like. Having experienced churches trying to play coffee shop in the past with clever names like HeBrews and Jesus Java, it was hard to get past the cheesiness to even try to enjoy the coffee. The Cairn was different. It was designed to be inviting to everybody; to be a place where anyone would want to find and join community. Jesus was there, but His presence was in the excitement of the staff and volunteers and not limited to pictures and tracks left on a table. 

We often get asked what a cairn is and why we named our coffee shop that. In biblical times, cairns were built as a landmark to commemorate that God did something big there. It served as a reminder that there was a need and God showed up. Over the years, the tradition to build cairns has remained. Today, they are used as a navigational tool, often marking the direction one is to travel, or to serve as a reminder that you are on the right path. We sought out to be all of those things. As a place for community to happen, we want to be the hub of where people can come, knowing they are in a positive place and where a path can be shown if they are seeking it. 

When you look at a cairn, it is not just a stack of rocks. It takes care and concentration and precise placement to achieve the right look and balance so they can withstand the elements. As I look at the past 2 years, we have been built with a good solid foundation. Staff like Dan, Diane, Gloria, Marci, and countless volunteers who were a part of the original crew, laid the building blocks to start building the Cairn up. As more of us have come along, the Cairn has grown and continues to grow into quite the monument. It is made up of so many imperfect rocks of different shapes and sizes, but it come together to make something beautiful and powerful. You see, the Cairn is about relationship. Not only do I get to work with some of my best friends every day, I have gotten to become friends with a lot of our customers as well. This is the best part of my job. And as more and more people walk through the door, it offers more opportunity to get to know somebody and hear their story and hopefully add another stone to the cairn. As we grow, and continue to share stories and build relationships, the path becomes clearer. We are here to be a positive place and make a positive impact in our community. That is happening. Our teen center (The Rowland Arts Center for Teens) has seen more than 250 teenagers in our community, offering a safe place to hang out, be mentored, and learn skills that can hopefully enrich their lives. Every penny we make above our operating expenses goes to fund the teen center to hopefully put a lot of kids on the right path. Through your generosity in tips, we have given thousands of dollars away to organizations fighting sex trafficking, feeding orphans, educating women in poverty stricken countries, and giving many a chance to dream for the first time. 

As we enter this next year, our mission to help everyone drink deep and dream big remains. Our work is never done. We will continue to do this one coffee, one slice of cheesecake, one sandwich, and one relationship at a time. If you haven't been in to see what's going on or just haven't been in in a while, let me encourage you to join us this weekend as we celebrate our 2nd birthday. All of our specialty drinks are just $2 this weekend. We will have live music both Friday night and Saturday afternoon. From the bottom of my coffee cup and heart, THANK YOU! Thank you for your support for the last 2 years. Thank you for allowing us to serve you. Thank you for choosing to eat/drink somewhere where your dollar is making a difference.

Drink Deep. Dream Big.




Value. Serve. Love.

"Ought to." The very words make me want to do whatever it is I "ought to" that much less!

I’ve known this about myself, but recently I’ve had to admit it all over again. Even if it’s a good thing to do, if I feel like I have to, I don’t wanna!

In preparing for a small group Bible study, I was instructed to reflect on the way we tend to value people: we tend to value people based on what they can do for us. It’s true- think about those you value most and why. Think about those you value least and why… Most of the time we value people because of how we are benefited. 

As always, God’s nature and logic is opposite of ours. First John 4:10-11 basically tells me I have to love all people- ALL people- unconditionally because they are valued by God, so much so that He sacrificed His own Son for them. Yes, even THAT person that you are thinking of right now- they are unconditionally valued by God. I’m sure we can all think of THAT person that is hardest to love, even though we “ought” to… 

But what about the ones we’re not thinking of? In my own case, they are actually the hardest to love and count as valuable- the people I don’t know and will probably never meet. Since I don’t know them and they can do nothing for me, it is naturally harder to act on their behalf (and sometimes to even remember they are out there…).

CS Lewis.jpg

How have your actions spoken of the value of those around you today?

We not only “ought” to value them, we are called to serve them. So very backwards from our “what’s in it for me” value system, we are to serve people we do not know, will not know, and can’t see because they are valued by God. I truly believe this is one of the hardest things to do. (If you disagree, then let’s please chat so you can rub off on me!) We have to reverse our thinking in order to change our actions.

This is exactly what we want to do through The Cairn. We value our customers- not just because you buy a LOT of cheesecake from us and keep us in business- but because we recognize that you are valued by a God that you may or may not know yet. We value our community and our world, whether or not we know all or even some of those individuals. That’s why, as a non-profit business, we do our best to act on behalf of people who need us to.

Here’s the best part: we want you to join us in the privilege of serving those around us! Coming soon to The Cairn is an interactive way to participate in the “big dreams” that the people around you (whether you know them or not) have for their own lives, the community and the world. Stay tuned for more details in the next blog post, and keep your eyes open for a fun addition to the cafe!