Oceanside coffee shop owner uses music, meals to fuel Feeding the Soul Foundation

The foundation is dedicated to using the arts to raise funds for various charitable organizations.

By PATRICIA MORRIS BUCKLEY – For the North County TimesĀ  – Californian

Life isn’t easy for Oceanside resident Vallie Gilley. A typical day for her is working at the Jitters coffee shop that she owns from 5 a.m. to 3 p.m., going to her parents’ house to care for her ailing mother afterward and then home to cook dinner for her boyfriend. And yet Gilley, who said in an interview that she doesn’t sleep much, isn’t one to complain.

“I am a blessed person,” she said. “My life is amazing.”

So blessed that Gilley decided she needed to help others even more. In May, inspired by a leadership class she had taken, she started the Oceanside-based Feeding the Soul Foundation with two friends (Melissa Grove and Catherine Bramhall). The foundation is dedicated to using the arts to raise funds for various charitable organizations.

The first project involved putting together a CD to raise money for the Lewy Body Dementia Association, which helps those with this fast-acting type of Parkinson’s. It’s what Gilley’s mother is struggling with.

“Two years ago, my mother was driving,” she recalled. “Now she needs constant help. But my parents taught me to serve others. They’re amazing people.”

The foundation also started a series of concerts to raise money. Each concert has raised money for a different organization. One concert last March raised more than $5,000 for Brother Benno’s Soup Kitchen.

Some of the concerts are small and held at Jitters, while others are in larger venues and draw as many as 300 people. Each concert also features great eats.

“I’ve always thought that the common languages we share are music and food, so that’s how we came up with the name of our foundation,” she said. “Each song on the CD has that underlying message.”

The group has put together an impressive and diverse list of musicians for the CD. They are Alex Woodard, Alysse Fischer, Bushwalla, Dawn Mitschele, Day Old Johnson, Jessie Payo, the Makepeace Bros., MC Flow, Parker Ainsworth and Raining Jane.

With the CD’s completion, it seemed fitting to hold another concert as a release party. This benefit concert on Saturday will feature 11 of the artists on the CD and is already close to selling out the 352-seat space, even before Grammy-winning Bonsall-based singer/songwriter Jason Mraz blogged about it.

“We’ve put on so many great events this year, and people got to know that about us,” Gilley said. “It shows what a great community we have. I never thought something like this could happen, but we thought this up and it manifested.”

A concert series and a CD to celebrate would seem enough to keep her busy, but she’s also producing a cookbook for charity.

“I’m a cook and people always want my recipes,” she said. “I’ve asked others to give of themselves, so I decided I needed to do the same. So I took 20 of my favorite recipes and put them in this book.”

It’s no wonder she doesn’t get much sleep. But it’s also what gets her out of bed each morning.

“I want to help others,” she said. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

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