On a mission for the Mission

Coby Hayes-Bishop (aka Mama Coby)

Coby Hayes-Bishop (aka Mama Coby)

Considering the amount of time Coby Hayes-Bishop puts in at the café, Clara’s at the Cathedral, you would never know she is “retired.”

Hayes-Bishop, who is affectionately called “Mama Coby” by all, is a wife, mother and grandmother to her family as well as a “servant, mentor, leader, fundraiser, and team player to all the others she associates with through her volunteer work at the Clara White Mission,” said Ju’Coby Pittman, CEO and president of the nonprofit.

“It’s hard to know how she finds the time to juggle her personal and volunteer life,” said Pittman. “I believe it’s her drive and passion to make a difference in the lives of the homeless and low-income families seeking a new way of life. The power and the impact of her volunteerism spirit is contagious, and it is a family and friends affair.”

Every Friday for the past 10 years, Mama Coby works at Clara’s at the Cathedral as a friendly greeter and cashier. The part-time café, located in Taliaferro Hall in St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral, is the only nonprofit certified training center in the State of Florida that is operated by volunteers and previously homeless/low-income students enrolled in the Clara White Mission School of Culinary Arts, said Pittman. The students develop the weekly menu, prepare the food, set up the café and wait tables, she said.

Established in May 2007, the café raises more than $45,000 in revenue for the Clara White Mission programs each year, and has graduated more than 900 students over 10 years. Upon graduation from the school, students are awarded their share of an additional $10,000 in tips accrued from the café annually. Overseen by Mama Coby and other volunteers, the students have served more than 9,653 customers since the café’s inception, Pittman said.

“Mama Coby has greeted new and returning customers for the past 10 years. Her excellent customer service and infectious smile keep you coming back again and again. She shares and distributes Clara White Mission program information to customers and has solicited more than 25 volunteers to become active with the Clara White Mission,” said Pittman.

“She is an inspiration and role model to young and old, black and white, homeless and affluent,” Pittman continued. “She exemplifies giving back to her community through leadership and in living by example in every aspect of her journey of life. Once you have met her, she has an unforgettable and extraordinary spirit and exhibits the heart and soul of giving unselfishly,” she said.