While Gladys Law Chung-yan believes it’s important to feed the hungry at her café, she thinks it’s even more important to fill their souls.
What began as a “suspended voucher” programme for the needy has given her the confidence to go much further.
“Most importantly, we want to show the needy that we care about them and to make sure that they feel the warmth even if it comes anonymously,” she says.
So when the project development manager was fishing around for a way to help others, she noticed that some restaurants were commercially viable while having a charitable focus and decided to give it a try.
Law, 32, is now the marketing director and co-founder of Go Inside Holdings, with its centrepiece being the Go Inside Café at Hung Hom.
Her first foray into the field was a “silent meal” held in association with Friends, an Italian restaurant that is part of the Go Inside group. It was a joyful event for all concerned – guests and the hearing-impaired staff.
Go Inside Café has joined the so-called “suspended coffee” movement” and extended it to include food.
“When customers pay for a meal or cup of coffee they can donate the price of a cup of coffee or a dish for someone in need to enjoy at the restaurant later,” Law says.
She says the concept has received an enthusiastic response.
“It was moving to see that the vouchers were sold out within hours. Then we decided to go on with it. “We didn’t care if we lost money at first,” Law says. “It takes time to cover the cost of running such a café but we all committed ourselves to making it work”
But the gain in another way is far beyond anything Law could have imagined.
“Being involved in the project makes me feel much happier,” she adds. “You become much closer to the people around you.
“The best work is doing what you like, what you are best at, and what meets the needs of society. It just makes you happy.”
Having got the café up and running, Law is now enthusiastic to widen its role.
“Helping others realise their dreams makes me happy too,” she says. “In spite of our limited resources, I can’t refuse doing whatever I can to make them real.
After all, she adds: “Dreams determine a person’s life and death.
“Apart from being a place where you can meet people, Go Inside Café is somewhere where you can develop your talents.
“One of my friends who is hoping to be a painter held her first exhibition here.”
was invited to hold her very first exhibition.
“We would like our customers to get motivated to pursue their own dreams. It doesn’t matter if you fail. Dreams give you hope. They’re what make you alive.”
The venue also provides a space for events designed for children, such as Art Jamming on Chairs, talks by speakers from all walks of life – such as the owner of a food waste processing – a charity bazaar and book swapping corner.
Now Law wants to open more branches of the café and publish a book about the dreams of Hongkongers from all walks of life – she has already collected the hopes of 150 people.
Law has advice for youngsters who haven’t got a clear goal.
“Don’t ever think that you make no impact,” she says. “Every individual contributes to society in some way.
“Grab a newspaper and read, and you just might find a dream to follow from something you read. Once you’ve decided, just go for it. But don’t be afraid to let go if it doesn’t work out.”
She’s heard about 150 dreams so far.
“Go Inside Café is where people find motivation to dreams their dreams and then pursue them,” she says. “I wish more and more people could fulfil their dreams and goals, especially those who are willing to do an act of kindness to make Hong Kong or the world a better place.”