Liz with a very friendly cow

Liz Fabics

Liz Fabics is one busy woman! Not only is she a Master’s student in Social Work at Colorado State University, but she’s also an intern for the FoCo Cafe. With her leadership, persistence, and passion for food justice, the FoCo Cafe has come a long way in only a year’s time. The following is a quick interview with this incredibly ingenious intern, Liz Fabics!

We’d like to learn a bit about you before delving into your work with the Cafe. Can you tell me about your background (i.e., work, education, hobbies ,etc.)?

Well, I just moved out to Fort Collins upon receiving my bachelor’s degree in social work last May from Rutgers University in New Jersey. There, I was managing a bagel and sandwich shop in New Brunswick, as well as interning with Rutgers Against Hunger, a University organization working to alleviate hunger in New Jersey. I love skiing, hiking, painting, and going to see live music.

Briefly describe how you learned about and then became associated with the FoCo Cafe.

I became involved in the Cafe due to pure fate. The Director of Field Education for CSU’s Graduate School of Social Work, Sue Tungate, met Kathleen and Jeff at a fundraiser for Hand Up Cooperative and spoke to them about the possibility of an intern from the program. Sue and I had discussed other internship opportunities but when she made the connection with FoCo Cafe, I was ecstatic. I have dreamed of starting a social enterprise to alleviate hunger for many years and having the opportunity to watch it happen has been a wonderful learning experience.

What were your goals or vision upon joining the FoCo team?

Initially, I wished to see the Cafe open before the end of my internship and see every part of the process unfold. I have had the opportunity to be a part of so much of the extensive process, learning so much from city officials, the health department, and all of the beautiful people I have had the pleasure of meeting with over the past several months.

What drives you to volunteer your time and effort into making this vision become a reality?

I really want to see the FoCo Cafe open it’s doors, not only to serve our wonderful community in Fort Collins, but to be a model for other communities seeking to start a pay-what-you-can-afford concept. The vision for FoCo Cafe will be a reality because the community is driving it forward.

Are there any important influences in your life that have pointed you to the direction of the Cafe.

Ever since my freshman year of college at Johnson & Wales in Providence, RI, where I was studying Restaurant & Hospitality Management, I knew I wanted more than to own just a standard restaurant. After a few social work classes and landing an internship with Rutgers Against Hunger, I learned about social enterprises and, in particular, the SouperVan. The SouperVan is a greaseless food truck, started by Rutgers grads Nik Kubian, Dominick Rodriguez, and Paul Deveral. Their mission is to alleviate hunger one bowl at a time, donating a meal to Elijah’s Promise soup kitchen for each meal purchased, all while using local, sustainably grown ingredients. Those guys were only a few years older than me and if they could start a socially conscious food truck, so could I.

What’s been the biggest challenge in your role in interning on the Cafe?

The biggest challenge, or greatest experience, in interning with the Cafe is that it has been very self-directed. I do not go to an office, clock in and have a definitive start or end time to my day. Instead, I set and take meetings in coffee shops across town and get to meet passionate people that want to utilize their time and talents to get involved with the Cafe. Doesn’t sound that challenging?

What’s been the most positively surprising thing in regards to the Cafe?

Having only moved to Fort Collins about a year ago, the most positive surprise with regard to the Cafe is the immense community support we have received. The FoCo Cafe community has grown from a small circle to a much larger one over the short course of time I have been working with the project. The amount of community members willing to donate their time, talent, material goods, or monetary support has been overwhelmingly awesome for this Jersey girl.

I hear you’re going to be finishing your Master’s Degree soon. What are your plans for the future? Will you still be around or are you heading off to the big unknown?

I will be receiving my Masters of Social Work next month. I’m still on a job hunt but I am definitely hoping to stick around Fort Collins. I don’t think I could find a better place to live out my twenties – and beyond. Even if I take a hiatus to farm in Costa Rica, Fort Collins is my new home!

What’s your favorite food/dish?

My favorite food is potato leek soup; but I eat a spinach salad nearly every day so I guess you could say that’s a favorite as well.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to work so closely with Kathleen and Jeff and all of the FoCo Cafe volunteers and supporters. I have learned so much and had such a diverse range of experiences through the process – from petting my first cow to grant writing and so much in between. I can’t put into words how much this opportunity has meant to me and in fulfilling my future dreams and goals.