“I think Just Coffee is a great opportunity to not only network, but to see what other people in the community are up to,” said Suzie Littlewood, an active goer of Just Coffee.
With no agenda except to engage in conversation with local community members over a cup of A'Roma Roaster’s coffee, Just Coffee is the perfect place to get to know your neighbors. Community Action Partnership teams up with SSU’s Center for Community Engagement to put on this monthly event. It is held on the second Tuesday of the month and presents a casual, fun environment open to anyone in the community.
I was a bit nervous to attend seeing as this was my first Just Coffee, but upon arrival my hesitations disappeared. I was welcomed with warm smiles and genuine engagement.
I spoke to Kristi McCulley, a Sebastopol teacher and a grad student here at Sonoma State. When I asked what brought her to the coffee shop, she responded with, “I’m eager to meet people in the community and make connections that I otherwise wouldn’t be able to.” Kristi is currently enrolled in the administration credential program and is looking to see what administrative path would be best for her. She figured Just Coffee was a perfect place to meet someone in the school administrative role. While that dream didn’t quite come true, she did recognize Emily Thiessen, who is the head of community engagement at Catholic Charities. Kristi takes her 3rd grade students to Catholic Charities to do volunteer work under Emily. They laughed about the coincidence of running into each other, and briefly talked of how wonderful the service program is Catholic Charities.
I also spoke with Vince Harper, the director of Community Engagement at Community Action Partnership (CAP). He started at CAP 27 years ago as a volunteer, and through lots of hard work he is now the director of Community Engagement. Speaking with people who are so dedicated to helping their community is always extremely inspiring for me. Vince works day in and day out to make Sonoma County a better place to live, and he does so with a cheerful attitude.
Also in attendance were VISTA AmeriCorps members. I spoke with Suzie Littlewood and Pamela Rivas, and was inspired by what they had to say about the program. The women explained that the VISTA members work dedicatedly to provide for members of the community. The VISTAs are also able to take a free grant writing course, and develop a valuable skill. Suzie and Pam are taking full advantage of all the opportunities the VISTA program offers. Suzie works with Vince at Community Action Partnership and Pam works with the Petaluma Health Center.
Just Coffee was the perfect start to my Tuesday. I engaged with wonderful members of the community and left feeling inspired by their stories. I will definitely be making Just Coffee a staple in my calendar.