Long-time customers of Java House set up GoFundMe for the coffee shop

The GoFundMe – started by customers Maradee Potter and Jan Barrett – has raised more than $18,000 so far and to continues to grow

Cora and Lonnie Chandler own Java House in downtown Vancouver. The coffee shop is downtown Vancouver's oldest, opening in 1991. Courtesy of Jan Barrett

As the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown last year and into this year continued to impact small businesses – particularly eateries – Clark County residents Maradee Potter and Jan Barrett came up with a plan to help one of their favorite and most beloved coffee shops, Java House.

“We asked Lonnie and Cora (Chandler) if it was OK if we could give GoFundMe a try,” Barrett said. “Neither Maradee nor me had any experience with fundraising. We set a very modest goal to start, not knowing what might transpire.”

Barrett and Potter started out the GoFundMe with a goal of $3,000. So far, as of today, to campaign has raised more than $18,000 and continues to grow.

“The campaign has succeeded beyond our wildest dreams,” Barrett said. “So many people stepped up to help. Maradee and I were truly humbled and gratified by the response. And we were excited to be able to give them the first of the proceeds (the end of January).”

Since that first check in January, Potter and Barrett have given the Chandlers two more checks, and there will be more to come.

In addition to helping the Chandlers with some of their financial needs at Java House, the GoFundMe has also acted as way for Potter and Barrett to honor Potter’s husband, John; Barrett’s daughter, Erika Karcher; and Potter’s teaching partner, Betty Arnett-Andrews – who have all passed away over the last several years.

“Maradee and Betty were teachers with the Vancouver School District,” Barrett said. “They specialized in teaching children with disabilities. My daughter was one of their students, both in elementary school and in high school. During the time Erika was in their classes, I was fortunate enough to be able to become friends with Maradee and Betty – a friendship that has lasted over decades. Betty and Maradee met almost every Friday afternoon at Java House in downtown Vancouver to decompress from the week and to meet Maradee’s husband John who rode the bus from his job in Portland. I was invited to join the group that, at various times, included kids, grandkids and other friends and that always met at Java House.”

“Lonnie and Cora have always been welcoming to us and other groups who chose to enjoy good coffee, tea and friends,” Barrett continued. “Cora and Lonnie have always remembered what we drank so putting in an order only involved walking in the door. The group got smaller as kids and grandkids grew up and as some loved ones passed away – Erika in 2016, John Potter and Betty in 2020. Maradee and I kept meeting every month or so as we were able to considering the pandemic.”

Java House was downtown Vancouver’s first espresso shop, opening in 1991 in an old Ford automobile dealership showroom at the corner of Columbia and Evergreen. The Java House GoFundMe campaign can be found here.   

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Joanna Yorke is the managing editor of the Vancouver Business Journal. She has worked in the journalism field since 2010 after graduating from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University in Pullman. Yorke worked at The Reflector Newspaper in Battle Ground for six years and then worked at and helped start ClarkCountyToday.com.