Pay it forward: Finding community and compassion in a Lexington coffee shop

By Chad Carlton, Building Kentucky

Kentucky has a rich heritage of hospitality.

We open doors for people, smile at strangers, remember to say “thanks,” and make casseroles for ailing neighbors. Simply put, we care about others.

A few weeks ago, I found a great example of our compassionate Commonwealth on the walls of a downtown Lexington coffee shop called Chocolate Holler. My friend, Danny Murphy, had suggested the quiet place for a catch-up chat that covered business opportunities, racial diversity, and our teenage years in nearby Anderson County.

As I sipped my cold chocolate concoction, I noticed a “Pay It Forward” sign on the nearby wall and dozens of cardboard cup holders pinned to bulletin boards.

The holders were scrawled with messages:

  • “Any drink for someone working with hurt children”
  • “Law student that survived finals”
  • “Free drink for any new mom”
  • “Free drink for a KCH nurse”

I learned the “Pay It Forward” wall has been going strong for years now at Chocolate Holler and A Cup of Common Wealth. Both coffee shops were created by Salvador Sanchez, a Michigan native who moved to Lexington and opened a Kentucky blue door at his first shop in 2013.

His guiding principles go with our Kentucky hospitality like morning goes with coffee: “Embrace community. Serve others. Create culture.”

So when you’re in Lexington or Georgetown, stop in to one of Sanchez’s shops. Buy a cup of community and pay it forward with a cup for someone else. If you can’t visit the Holler or the Common Wealth, you can give a cup of Kentucky kindness online here:

Thanks, y’all!

About The Author

Chad Carlton

Chad Carlton is Publisher of Building Kentucky and President at C2 Strategic Communications. He brings more than 25 years of high-stakes, front-line communications experience to the leadership of C2 Strategic.

Chad is a strategic and creative thinker, a polished writer and a respected adviser to strong leaders including governors, mayors, company executives, cabinet secretaries and entrepreneurs.

Since founding C2 Strategic in January 2011, Chad has focused on work that makes a positive difference in the community – from education to transportation, from non-profits to business.

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