Individuals with Mercer Residential Services, Inc. purchased coffees for community members on Tuesday. They only asked that in return, community members consider paying it forward by donating to the Van Wert County Humane Society. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)
Individuals with Mercer Residential Services, Inc. purchased coffees for community members on Tuesday. They only asked that in return, community members consider paying it forward by donating to the Van Wert County Humane Society. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)

VAN WERT – Those walking into Brewed Expression's downtown cafe on New Year's Eve got a pleasant surprise when they went to pay for their coffee – it was already paid for courtesy of Mercer Residential Services, Inc.

Individuals with MRSI sat in the cafe enjoying their coffee as residents thanked them for the kind gesture. All they asked in return was that those who enjoyed the free coffees pay it forward, if they can, by donating to the Van Wert County Humane Society's need list.

Adult Day Services Administrator Francie Carmain said that the individuals with MRSI have a day called "Coffee and Convos" where they socialize with the community through the coffee shop. Because of their love for coffee, and the fact that Brewed Expressions is often a place where people meet to converse, they felt that paying it forward through free coffees would be a great opportunity to invite the community to get to know who they are.

"For Christmas, we were trying to think of acts of kindness we could do to pay it forward," said Carmain. "We decided to use some of the money that we had earned for cleaning a church to pay it forward and buy coffee for community members."

Recently, the individuals with MRSI earned $125 cleaning a church. They used the amount to pay for citizen's coffee on Tuesday. When a coffee was purchased, the coffee drinker was handed a handcrafted note that explained who paid for the coffee; the noted asked them to pay it forward. Included on the note was a list of items needed at the Van Wert County Humane Society.

"We volunteer at the Humane Society; we love the Humane Society," said Carmain. "We hope that someone will help give back to the Humane Society. The animals mean so much to us. They don't judge us or look at us differently. It doesn't matter if we can talk the same or read or write the same, the animals love us just as much as anybody else."

MRSI individuals love to walk shelter dogs and take them to parks. They also help clean the cats that are located in Pet Valu.

Carmain said they have been volunteering for over three years at the VWCHS.

"I think it has given our clients so much more confidence since they began volunteering," said Carmain. "It makes them feel like they really are a part of something."

"If some people give some money or donate some items to the Humane Society because of what we've done here today, we all win," said Carmain of the pay it forward event.