Happiness Making Toffee at The Divine Art Café
Growing up Paula Hock enjoyed eating her aunt’s toffee. In 2005, Paula decided the toffee was good enough to sell and launched a business out of her house. She became so successful that soon she was distributing her toffee to Whole Foods stores across the South. Eventually she realized that the business was outgrowing her home and she would have to make a change. She decided that whatever she did she wanted to give back to her community, and so the Divine Art Café was born.
Paula Hock is Divine Art Café’s founder and renaissance woman. As a former Peace Corps volunteer, nurse, mom, and entrepreneur, Paula may be zipping between playing barista, training new employees, and grilling tasty paninis.
The café is a nonprofit designed to empower three distinct groups of disenfranchised people: disabled students, recovering addicts, and the elderly. What are these folks doing there? Paula recognizes that these individuals need pathways to restoring their dignity and independence. In this sense, the café is a means to an end; Paula can create jobs for people who struggle to find work elsewhere, therein enabling them to receive training and recover their confidence.
Her passion for these individuals is palpable. “The elderly have lived such full lives,” Paula says, “but our society often brushes them aside. How would you feel if that happened to you at the end of your life? They are like rich, walking books of experience!” She also recalls fondly one of the disabled students on staff who, as she put it, came in on his first day looking like Eeyore, the moping donkey friend of Winnie the Pooh. One year later, “he was taking the bus by himself, which he had never done before, had a girlfriend, and smiled constantly.” For Paula, it’s stories like these that are the markers of success.
Divine Art Café | 604 Gallatin Avenue 3109 615-953-1325 | divineartcafe.org