You’re always glad you came to Gabi’s Coffee Shop in Cornelius, NC. Like the iconic TV spot with coffee instead of beer and mexican wedding cookies instead of pretzels, it has become a welcomed refuge for many. When you come in the door, it is Gabi who calls out a welcome instead of a big guy drinking beer at the bar – way better than Cheers. Sure you can find plenty of good coffee and authentic pastries all made by Gabi, but she and her regular customers are definitely the stars of the show. Gabi was my first Namaste card recipient because she embodies everything the card says to me. I believe it was her spark that started the fiery sense of belonging burning so brightly in the heart of this community. Like a foreshadowing of what could be, my first trips to Gabi’s were a reassurance that I had moved to a place with soul. I would dash in and out in my usual hurried state and started noticing familiar faces – all shades of the human rainbow, young and young at heart- talking, knitting, reading, working on laptops, holding babies. I wanted to know more about these people. Now I take my time, sit down and drink my coffee instead of splashing it around my car as I drive to work. I have come to know the stories behind the familiar faces and they have come to know mine. Thank you Gabi for your laugh, smile and light so central to the the heart of this community and mine. Namaste.