Serving Hope is the product of Cynthia Hart, a 40+ year restaurant industry veteran. She was inspired to shift her focus away from management and ownership toward instruction, with the goal of investing in the underserved communities of Madison County to bring growth to each individual student and their family structures.  The Serving Hope goal is simple:  To love well, instill hope and teach a new work skill set for lasting employment in Huntsville’s fast growing food and hospitality industry.

When you dine at Cyn Shea’s or book a catering, you are supporting men and women who are gaining ‘hands-on’ experience in our kitchen while they establish a foundation to overcome financial, emotional, and spiritual obstacles.


The Serving Hope Story 

 by Cynthia Shea Hart


Setting the Stage

It began while on a road trip to Wisconsin; my only passenger was Jesus, and that was just perfect! As I traveled through Nashville, I caught a live interview between a K-Love DJ and a missionary who had recently returned home to Columbia, TN from Turkey, having served there as a missionary for 15 years.

What made this interview so intriguing was the snippets of her story, the familiar words of the Bible I continued to recognize and the gifts of song as she sang the Book of Revelation by Memory! I remember thinking “Are you serious, Lord?  Really?  You gave someone the gift of memory and the gift of memorizing a WHOLE book of the Bible and, let alone, Revelation?!”  Amazing.

You see, I have trouble memorizing one verse, let alone a whole book of the Bible! That fired me up!!! I was simply in awe.  What I remember today, is that I could have ‘flown’ to Wisconsin and I found myself in Chicago, IL before night fall. The following conversation I had with Jesus kept me focused and I couldn’t help but feel that He was going to show Himself in unimaginable ways.

Another Trip to Nashville

As a member of the Downtown Huntsville, Inc. board; I had the opportunity to visit Nashville just 3 weeks later. The purpose of our trip was to observe and access community growth. During our travels I passed by a small café that ‘more than caught my eye’. Due to the name, I couldn’t help but wonder if it was a part of a company I had worked with years ago. Once we were done with our board work for the day I was drawn to drive by that little café again en route to the hotel. This second time I took note of its name, The Cookery, a Division of Lambscroft Ministries.  

After checking in I went straight to the room, began to flip through a particularly delicious magazine called Edible only to see an article featuring the same café, The Cookery! Out of a million people and nearly that many restaurants and places I could have seen, there was NO DOUBT the Lord had designed this discovery.  I hadn’t had any real Jesus-time that day due to early travel plans, so I grabbed by Bible and headed to The Cookery.

I knew then, as I know now: my experience was ordained. I recognized the Spirit was drawing me to Himself, the moment I drove onto the gravel parking lot.  I was near trembling with joy and excitement.   Jesus had gone before me and prepared the place as if we were to have met there all along.  They kept a soup kettle for the homeless as well; warm and welcoming, and their prayer wall was covered with well worn notes, prayers and praises. It was my kind of place, a place filled with warmth and centered around community. 

In the hallway, there were articles of The Cookery’s story and its Mission. I remembered my road trip with Jesus with reverence.  During my visit to the Cookery I enjoyed a latte, an Australian dessert, and the Aussie accent of Brett Swayn the Cookery’s founder: it all left an impression. I would be forever changed by my experience, and the painting under which I sat of our Christ surrendered would surely never be forgotten.

My Return

When we arrived, our minds were a buzz and our questions led to other questions and then to even more questions. More than 3 hours later, the answer was clear… Jesus was the answer. He had arranged the meeting, He was orchestrating these new friendships, although neither party knew what he had in store. Still, we were satisfied for the time being.

After being prayed over prior to our departure Merari Swayn (Co-Founder of the Cookery, and Brett’s loving wife) looked at me and said, “I feel I must be obedient to the Spirit” as she asked what I was doing on Tuesday evening?”

My husband and I were scheduled to attend Cornerstone Initiative on the same day, an all-day conference.

She continued…

“I feel I am supposed to invite you to attend a special event we are hosting. We have invited a friend who has recently returned from Turkey as a missionary.  She will be singing the Book of Revelation by memory.”

Indescribable Joy

Having accepted Merari’s invitation, My husband and I met and heard, missionary-artist-vocalist, Carolyn Parr that Tuesday night.  I must say, my life has not been the same since!  Recalling that moment, it was as if every emotion rushed over me all at once.  From fear and trepidation at the unknown to indescribable JOY when my Spirit was aligned with the Holy Spirit, for the Lord had confirmed the path I was to follow.

There is NOTHING that compares to when His Spirit speaks directly to mine. I long to be in His presence constantly. I certainly could not have planned or imagined that a business trip to Wisconsin would lead to three more trips to Nashville and reveal a completely new direction for our 22-year old company.

I had been praying, begging for Christ to reveal himself, and His Purpose for me in my service to Him. The restructuring of Cyn Shea’s Café and Catering into a non-profit called Serving Hope, Inc. has been its own journey and a complete leap of faith.

As we continue to forge boldly down this road our master has set for us, our mission is clearer than ever: to share His message of hope.