LOUDONVILLE -- When Bethany Paterson set out to open a nonprofit on Loudonville's Main Street, her son Christopher Paterson was only in first grade.
Now 14, Christopher says didn't think he could help at that time, but he remembers his mother's passion and determination as she worked to start up Mugs, a nonprofit community center and coffee shop where existing organizations could bring their services to their small rural community.
Located roughly a half hour drive from Mansfield, Ashland, Wooster and Mount Vernon, the residents of Loudonville often fit the criteria for area programs. They could qualify for help finding jobs, fighting addiction and more.
But from Bethany Paterson's perspective, they weren't often receiving the services they needed.
"The problem was much of the help was over 20 miles away, and what help was available here was often located in churches, which people may not feel comfortable to use if they're not a regular attender there," Christopher said.
His mother's solution was to offer a space in Loudonville, where residents and area services could connect. Already available services could be offered closer.
In 2014, the Patersons were gifted a historic building in downtown Loudonville to renovate and eventually house their nonprofit. But even today, they still haven't been able to open their doors.
"We tried raising money. We've tried a murder mystery, held fundraisers, and nothing has brought in enough money," Christopher said.
About two years ago, at age 12, he had an idea -- one that has his family more excited than ever for the future of Mugs. He suggested they build a phone game and use the funds from advertisements to fund Mugs.
Christopher came up with a few ideas, and the Patersons teamed with a game tech designer from Berlin, Germany to bring one to life.
"DRIPS" was released in mid-October and is available as a free download on Apple’s App Store as well as Android’s Google Play. It is a phone game that requires the player to fill drink orders to advance levels. The way they do that is by moving a mug on a tray back and forth to catch drips falling from the top of the screen. Players can tilt the phone to move the mug and catch the falling drips.
"It's been a fascinating process seeing my idea come to life, but it's going to be even better seeing how my idea blesses my mom, and her team, and this whole region really," Christopher said.
“I’m excited to see MUGS open one day soon because I believe in the mission of Mugs. Mugs' team wants to help the people of this region become all they were created to be by giving all kinds of people all kinds of opportunity to be the best possible version of themselves. And I wanna help make that happen."