Volunteers are a central thread to the success of Foco Cafe. When founders Kathleen and Jeff 20141022_130536Baumgardner began talking with the Northern Colorado community about the idea of a community cafe, the response from different individuals was overwhelmingly positive. Volunteers from all walks of life surrounded the Baumgardners, including over 50 students at Dunn Elementary, an IB World School in Fort Collins.

Knowing the power of students’ creativity and desire to create positive change in the world, Kathleen and one of the parents at Dunn Elementary, Jamie Williams-Sherwood, began brainstorming ways 475children could help Foco Cafe. Jamie connected with Dunn’s art teacher, Jennifer Metcalf, to come up with an idea for an action-based art project. Together with her student teacher, Linda Roth, Mrs. Metcalf developed Messages of Hope—a project where students from third through fifth grade would create art to be given out to guests at Foco Cafe on opening day.

For the project, Mrs. Metcalf and Ms. Roth wanted to promote individual creativity and allow students the opportunity to draw and write hopeful or 473inspirational messages for individuals and families facing difficulties and challenges in life. Using a plexiglass surface and washable markers, students created their own drawings that symbolized hope or inspiration. After the drawings were colored on the plexiglass surface, the images were transferred to paper, creating a painted watercolor effect. To complete their inspirational art pieces, students attached a small message of hope or inspiration on the back of the drawings.

Mrs. Metcalf was proud to see the positive response from her students, and the students were thrilled at the idea of turning “art into action.” Students by the dozens gave up their recess to paint pictures for guests at Foco Cafe. In total, Mrs. Metcalf had over 50 students participate in the project and create over 100 messages of hope. These students gave up the little bit of free time they had during the school day to provide hope to all those entering Foco Cafe.

Today, upon entering Foco Cafe you can see some of the remaining Messages of Hope from the IMG_3550students at Dunn Elementary, an IB World School. We encourage you to visit the cafe and check out the art (and while you’re there grab some amazing food!).

To organize an innovative volunteer project with Foco Cafe like the one Mrs. Metcalf, Jamie Williams-Sherwood, and Kathleen organized, or to get your school involved with Foco Cafe, contact Kathleen Baumgardner at info@fococafe.org.