VILLA GROVE, Ill. (WCIA) — When you think of a coffee shop, you probably wouldn’t picture military patches and pictures hanging all over the wall. But for one husband and wife in Villa Grove, they wouldn’t have it any other way.
Jerry and Beth Jenks are the owners of the Korner Beehive Cafe. When you walk into the Korner Beehive Cafe, you feel a certain chemistry.
“There’s lots of pictures up here where there’s groups of guys sitting in different locations, and different elements, different places that we’ve been around the world,” Jerry Jenks said. “And the thing is, once you’ve gone somewhere, you’ve been removed from your immediate family. And so these people all become your family.”
The pictures on the wall of the coffee shop represent people Jerry Jenks and his family served with. Well, most of them.
“I decided to stick some celebrities in there, and when people come in, we tell them, ‘Yeah this is are family wall.’ They’re like, ‘Whoa, how are you related to Walt Disney?'” he said. “And I’m like, ‘Well, he’s my distant uncle.'”
His mission of serving others is still strong, even years after his time in the military.
“A lot of what you do and you see when you’re in a foreign country, or away from family, is you’re protecting each other,” Jerry Jenks said. “It’s got little to do with the mission Uncle Sam wanted us to do. The mission was: we’re going to make sure everyone came home.”
Now, the Navy Veteran is retired and running the Korner Beehive coffee shop with his wife, Beth.
“It’s Veteran-made, Veteran-sponsored. It’s the best coffee in the world,” one patron said.
For the retired Chief Heavy Equipment Operator, this mission is more than just running a business, but also helping other Veterans in Villa Grove.
“This has actually been the best thing for me, because I had and still have a lot of issues,” Beth Jenks said. “I have come out of my shell a lot more now than I used to. I used to not want to be out in the public to talk to anybody, but now I am actually out talking and being around people a lot more than I used to be. I used to stay at home, go to work, go home, go to work, go home.”
Jerry Jenks said Veterans can be susceptible to alcoholism, so he and his wife wanted to create a space for them to skip the bar and come together over a cup of coffee instead.
WCIA will be featuring Veterans Voices every Tuesday leading up to our 30-minute special Nov. 28th.