GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Inside, it’s work in progress.

Clutter is being packed up. Walls will soon come down.

Late next May, the old building tucked away on the west side of Veterans Memorial Park at Fulton Street and Sheldon Avenue will be a place for coffee and conversation.

This historical building at Veterans Memorial Park in Grand Rapids will become a coffee shop. (Nov. 2, 2022)
This historical building at Veterans Memorial Park in Grand Rapids will become a coffee shop. (Nov. 2, 2022)

“This is a project we’ve been working on for quite some time,” Michael Hyacinthe said.

Hyacinth first thought of the dream ten years ago. The U.S. Navy veteran wanted to find a way to provide an artistic outlet for fellow veterans, so Has Heart was born.

The nonprofit matches wounded vets with the creative community.

“The impact was really profound. We got inquiries from veterans who’d been wounded from all around the country asking about this project,” Hyacinthe said. “Veterans, at times during the creative process, can be a little anxious. So a nice cup of coffee can relax them and allows them to open up and share their ideas and their stories. “

That’s where the coffee shop concept comes in.

Has Heart will break ground next week on the project, which includes turning the building into a café complete with a patio and takeout window.

“We can employ veterans and their spouses. In addition to that, we want to continue to showcase the work that veterans have created through our has heart project,” Hyacinthe said.

Madcap Coffee will supply the java.

Others in the community, from foundations and other philanthropic groups, have responded: Has Heart has nearly met it’s $1 million fundraising goal.

Along with a warm welcoming cup of coffee for a vet, Hyacinthe hopes to create a better understanding in the community for their plight.

“Ultimately, we want to raise awareness about the different struggles that veterans are facing. PTSD, traumatic brain injury, anxiety and depression,” Hyacinthe said. “It’s going to require all hands on deck to support veterans. If we just leave veterans to support themselves, then were going to be tremendously short in meeting that goal.”

The café is set to open the weekend before Memorial Day next May.