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Local café committed to helping local parents go back to school

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - While most people choose to spend their retirement years in a warmer climate sprawled out on the couch enjoying their newfound free time, one local woman decided to go back to work for a good cause.

Brenda Buxman opened Jewelstone Café and Waffle Bar solely to help Chippewa Valley families in need.

"As my daughters went through high school they had several friends that had an issue with housing insecurity and I noticed how much of a problem that was, even in this community where sometimes it's not really obvious," Buxman said.

A retired RN, Buxman did not know anything about the restaurant biz before she opened the café in Chippewa Falls in 2018.

With the help of her daughters, Buxman was able to make the dream come true. They now work with "Warm Hearts, Warm Homes Chippewa Valley" and help give parents going back to school an even playing field.

"A family that we learn about that the parents are interested in going back to school we would be able to help with their rent for 12 months or however long it takes and then they can work on their degree and focus on that," she said.

They moved to their new location in downtown Eau Claire in early 2020 in search of a larger customer base; hoping residents would enjoy the funky aesthetics Buxman and her daughters created.

"Actually it was my daughter's idea the nature theme is really refreshing in the middle of winter," Buxman said through a laugh.

Café Manger Danielle Downing started out as a customer herself and was drawn to Jewelstone because of its uniqueness.

"[It's] something different. One of my top complaints around here is that if we get a new restaurant, it's a restaurant we already have. Just a different building," she said.

They even have a victorian-style tea room Buxman said is a big hit with patrons of all ages.

"That's just for fun. Just kind of a step back in a different era," Buxman said.

Due to the pandemic, the café's profit margins are not where they need to be for them to be able to sponsor a family. Though they are not discouraged and plan to continue serving customers to try and get their program up and running again.

The Jewelstone Café & Waffle Bar is located on 207 N. Barstow St. in Downtown Eau Claire. For more information on their hours of operation or commitment to helping Chippewa Valley families in need visit their website at jewelstonecafe.com.

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Stephanie Rodriguez

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