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Sugartree Ministries Plans to Reopen Joe’s Java as ‘Al’s Coffee’ to Honor Founder


Left to Right: Katie Terrell, Bonnie Willoughby, Allen Willoughby, Lee Sandlin
Left to Right: Katie Terrell, Bonnie Willoughby, Allen Willoughby, Lee Sandlin

Over the past few months, two local baristas, Evelyn Miller and Christianna Yost, have been working with Executive Director of Sugartree Ministries, Lee Sandlin, with the idea of reopening Joe’s Java, a donation only coffee shop, a few days a week as a way to help women in our community.


Sandlin said, “like Sugartree Landscaping, we want to create a work program for ladies to help them move forward and make some money for child care and bills. All the coffee is free [because as a nonprofit they cannot charge], but our baristas receive the tips. Our plan is to bring in local artists and musicians to showcase their talents to help support a worthy cause. Our hours now are Tuesday and Thursday, 6pm to 8pm, but we are hoping to expand those in the future.”



Joe’s Java will also be changing its name to ‘Al’s Coffee’ to honor Sugartree Ministries Founder, Allen Willoughby (now retired). Sandlin surprised Willoughby with this announcement on Wednesday, December 20, 2023 at their Christmas party held at The Murphy Theatre for the staff of all three of Wilmington’s homeless shelters.


At the party, Sandlin, along with Denise Stryker, Executive Director of Clinton County Homeless Shelter, and Katie Terrell, Executive Director of Hope House, each recognized their teams for helping carry their ministries and being givers in our community. “The Bible says that ‘For God so loved the world He GAVE…’”, said Sandlin. “And out of everything you could be doing, you choose to be here and give.”

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