FRUIT COVE, Fla. – A St. Johns County café is bringing some holiday cheer a little early.
Noah’s Agape Café on State Road 13 in Fruit Cove hosted its first “Christmas in July” event from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday.
Joanne Alicea and Beckie Schwartz teamed up to run the Christmas event with the hopes that other families can connect with each other and establish new friendships.
“I just want them to have fun,” Schwartz said. “I want them to have a great family experience.”
“Even having parents who now have adult kids with special needs, being able to just pour into the younger families,” Alicea said. “So that they can be able to mentor them, pour out their wisdom.’”
Alicea is the CEO of Ability Tree First Coast, which provides recreational activities, support and training for people with special needs and their families.
Schwartz owns Noah’s Agape Café which opened its doors in September 2022 and now employs about 20 people with unique abilities, mostly between 18 and 22 years old.
The schedule for “Christmas in July” included activities like cookie decorating, making Christmas cards, karaoke, games and a visit from Santa Claus.
Both Alicea and Schwartz want this event to be a safe space and a chance for families to bond.
“A lot of the time, they are just focused on the clinical, the medical, the therapies, and all of these other things,” Alicea said. “There are always teachable moments with their kids. [I want] this to be pure enjoyment, and just being able to remember what it is like just to be a family.”
“We just want to love on these kids and love on their families,” Schwartz said.
Noah’s Agape Café and Ability Tree First Coast have partnered for a few other events within the last year.
Last fall, they had a campfire and cocoa event. In the spring, they held a family bingo.
If you’re interested in going, you have to register for it. You can do that here: https://www.abilitytreefc.org/family-social/.