Making a Difference by Munching: Cafe for a Cause

Ms. Elyse Martin-Smith

Yummy! Nothing tastes sweeter than being able to make a difference in a furry friend’s life… Except for doing it while eating a delicious waffle from the CVU Cafe! Every year, Leo LaForce and the CVU Student Council team up to set up Cafe for a Cause, where the profits of all purchases at the cafeteria for one day go to a certain charity. There is also a raffle managed by Student Council and this year there was a donation table as well. This year, the charity was the Humane Society of Chittenden County.

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Photo by Elyse Martin-Smith

Cafe for a Cause has been an annual CVU tradition since 2004 or 2005. Leo LaForce, head of the CVU Cafe, has worked very hard to make this a successful event at CVU to give back. “I’ve worked in restaurants my entire life, which is always for profit… so there has really never been an opportunity,” says LaForce. His idea for this contrasts his past work, so he turned to his core values to gain inspiration for this event. “I’ve always felt people should give to the community, or give back in some way”

One thing that makes this event possible is the support of the community, which became apparent when LaForce approached the Chief Operating Officer for the CVSD district, proposing the idea. “He said ‘go for it!’” LaForce recalls. The Cafe relies on donations to make this possible, which makes community involvement even more valuable.

 This year, the Humane Society was chosen by Leo LaForce as this year’s lucky charity. Some years, like last year, it is selected by the CVU Student Council. Last year, the profit was actually split between the Richmond and Hinesburg Food Shelters. However, this year, the Chittenden Humane Society was the sole organization receiving profits. The mission statement of the Humane Society is “to foster compassionate treatment of animals and prevent animal suffering; to strengthen the human-animal bond; and to further the cause of responsible animal ownership through education and public awareness,” according to their website.  I mean, who doesn’t love helping animals find a forever home or helping provide them with proper healthcare?

LaForce felt this was a really great fit for this year’s donations. “It’s not just helping animals; it’s helping people! Everyone knows how important a pet is to them.” It is also very local, which some people may not know. The Chittenden Humane Society, although the same organization, is not directly affiliated with the National Humane Society in the realm of donations. “They have to raise money for what they do for their own individual charity,” Leo comments, highlighting the importance of helping the local strands of the larger organization.

 Cafe for a Cause can help make a significant difference for whatever charity is chosen that year since it raises a lot of necessary funds. According to Leo LaForce, “We raised $347 through Raffle sales and $7,403 through Cafe sales to total $7,750 dollars.” Considering the current student enrollment, there was a good turnout. “Out of 1308 students we served 357 breakfast meals (27%) and 774 lunch meals (almost 60%)” and “out of 300 adults we served 38 breakfast meals (almost 13%) and 75 Lunch meals (25%),” Leo LaForce mentioned in a school-wide email. These numbers are impressive in comparison to some recent years, and it can significantly help the Humane Society.

Putting on such a large event requires the support of many people and groups. Student Council helped to put together the morning waffle bar for Cafe for a Cause and assembled a large raffle. The raffle included prizes ranging from a FitBit to a french press, all due to generous donations from many businesses. Jessica Ke really lead this project and expertly organized the student aspect of this event. Her efforts were greatly appreciated this year in helping it run smoothly.

Although this event was a success, there is always room for improvement. Andre LaChance has consistently assisted with organizing students, as well as the critique of the event so that it can run more smoothly next year. This is extremely helpful in many ways. Compared to last year, there was a significantly higher profit this year, showing that things are already improving. Also, many a variety of new local businesses donated products to the raffle, creating new bonds within the community.

Overall, Cafe for a Cause was very successful this year, and a great idea that has been well refined at CVU. Simply by eating some delicious tortellini or enjoying a cup of coffee, the lives of precious pets are improved. Just in time for “giving season” and CVU’s Attitude for Gratitude Week, this event furthers the idea of giving and gratitude. Leo LaForce said his “favorite part is seeing the amount of support from the CVU community, the amount of students that come in, the amount of adults that come through, and the amount of joy they seem to be taking in that event.” He was very grateful for everyone who helped out with this event. He was also able to spread the kindness.

LaForce said that another one of the most rewarding parts of this is “the joy we see them experience and seeing what it can do.” With this in mind, take this as inspiration to spread a generous and gracious mentality like this event does. Finally, remember to look out for Cafe for a Cause at CVU in future years!

Interested in the cause? Visit the Chittenden Humane Society webpage at the link below!

https://www.chittendenhumane.org/

 

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