Mother and daughter start the nonprofit tearoom, My Little Tea Spot, to benefit missionary trips.
At age 4, Ashley Schrock declared to her parents that she was going to dedicate her life to missionary work and throw tea parties.
To make her promise ironclad, she put it in writing and gave it to her mother, Cynthia Schrock, for safekeeping.
Now 23, Ashley is seeing that promise through with the start of a nonprofit tearoom at the family’s Sarasota home called My Little Tea Spot.
“As a kid, I remember playing with that tea set. I remember sitting down and thinking about having a tearoom. Now it’s all worked out,” Ashley said.
And she kept her promise to become a missionary. Ashley has completed mission trips to China, Ecuador and Mongolia.She focuses on causes to help women and children in foreign countries who are either impoverished or getting out of domestic violence situations.
“I just have a heart for people,” Ashley said. “My heart is mostly for women and children. I just want people to have the love that I feel that Jesus has given me.”
Some of her mission work involves teaching English, but in China, she worked with an organization focused on women working as prostitutes who were trying to escape the sex trade.
“That broke my heart because I met some of the prostitutes and talked with them,” Ashley said. “I saw what was going on and how these men would surround them.”
Now, Ashley is considering her next mission trip. The most challenging part, of course, is funding. Through My Little Tea Spot, she and her mother are helping fund her trips and other mission organizations abroad.
Cynthia kept the piece of paper with her daughter’s promise and brought it up when she was considering what to do after her previous mission.
Missionary work is a family affair. Cynthia lived for seven years in Ecuador with her family when she was a child. She recalls one month the family had $10 to stretch for a family of four.
“I was praying about what I could do for her, and this came to my memory,” Cynthia said. “I’m done with my home school teaching journey, and I have some free time. My mom was a caterer, so I’ve always been around hospitality.”
My Little Tea Spot has been open since July, welcoming guests every Friday and Saturday. On Thursday evenings, Cynthia and Ashley rearrange furniture in living and dining area to make room to seat 18 people.
Each month, the menu is themed to the country and missions that will benefit from the proceeds. October is for India, a reflection of the Heart of the Matter Ministries and the Mother Teresa Center of Calcutta. November’s menu will reflect dishes from the Netherlands, with proceeds benefiting organizations like The Tabernacle in the Red Light District and The Shelter.
One thing missing from the menu is a price. The goal of the My Little Tea Spot is to give to the ministries whatever customers are willing to donate.
The family and Cynthia’s sister, Brenda James, who provides the desserts, donate all of the food and tea. The goal is to raise $150 each week. Since opening in July, the most raised in a month for the missions is $500.
Although they’re starting small, Cynthia believes My Little Tea Spot has potential to become a nonprofit restaurant if it develops a large following.
“People want to feel like they are doing more than filling their bellies,” Cynthia Schrock said. “They’re actually giving to a cause. ”