Charity Spotlight: Dan the Coffee Man

Some of you may have seen this already, but I wanted to share this for those who haven't.  This story appeared in the May 13 edition of the Detroit News and is also on Facebook.  

This is an amazing story about an incredibly generous man named Dan Dewey, from Gingerville, MI, who for the past 9 years has provided free Starbucks coffee to the staff and chemo patients at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital Michigan Cancer Institute, Royal Oak Beaumont Rose Cancer Center and CARE House of Oakland County.  

Photo:  Marney Rich Keenan/The Detroit News

Photo:  Marney Rich Keenan/The Detroit News

Detroit News columnist Marney Rich Keenan writes:

 Dewey, a retired audio visual specialist for Birmingham Public Schools who will turn 69 in August, began by paying for the effort by shelling out his own money, spending upward of $10,000. A few years back, media exposure led to a windfall of donations that kept him afloat for a few years. But by this spring, coffee funds had dwindled to nothing. He was reluctant to let anybody know.

"Believe me, I spent a lot of sleepless nights trying to figure this all out,' Dewey said Monday. His plan is to sell property from the family farm and use the proceeds to form a nonprofit for the coffee runs. 'I've been trying for nearly a year, but it hasn't happened yet."

Dewey's legendary coffee runs began in 2006 when his father, Edgar Dewey, was a cancer patient at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital's Michigan Cancer Institute (MCI) in Pontiac. It was the elder Dewey's second round of chemo. Five years earlier, eight weeks of chemo had put his lymphoma in remission.  When the cancer came back in his colon, the two-hour infusions were prescribed after surgery.

"We were given Thursdays at 10 a.m., same time as five years earlier," Dan Dewey says. "The same staff, same favorite nurse — her name is Kelly — were there. And they were so goofy and fun and positive, I grabbed my dad's wallet and said: 'I'm going for coffee. Anybody want anything?' Well, the laughter began and that's when it all started."  Dewey headed a mile north down Woodward to the Starbucks near Square Lake Road and bought everyone coffee for the eight weeks his father was at St. Joe's.

"When I brought my dad home, I said: 'Dad: should I keep doing it?' And he says: 'Yeah, go ahead.' "  So for the next five years, Dewey — white-haired, dressed in shorts year-round and perpetually jovial — delivered Starbucks to staff and patients at St. Joe's every week.

And only Starbucks, mind you.

"It's because when I say I'm going to Starbucks, people say: 'Oh, not only is he buying, he's going for the good stuff.' "

Between the twice-weekly visits at St. Joe's and Rose Cancer Center, and the weekly visit to CARE House, Dewey averages between 90 and 100 coffee drinks a week.  That's a little less than 5000 drinks a year.

 Dan didn't have money for gas on Wednesday, so he ran 18 miles from his home to Royal Oak so that he wouldn't disappoint the staff and patients at Beaumont Hospital.  It took 3 hours and 45 minutes, but he got there.  A friend of Dan's found out about the money issues and started a gofundme page to raise money for Dan to continue his mission of mercy.  The goal is $5000, of which a little over $3300 has been raised so far.

You can read the full story here.  Please take a few minutes to do so.  And then please open your heart and your wallet to help Dan with his mission.  

God Bless you, Dan.  And thank you to Marney Rick Keenan for sharing his story with us.