Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The beauty of the Whiting Cafe Makeover

Click on the photo above to view slide show.

A simple sign. That's about as formal as we got. We had no kick-off meeting or big hurrah. As people arrived they somehow slipped into jobs and everything fell into place. Imagine 100 people that didn't know each other, all with different skills and aptitude, working on and in a tiny cafe that seats only 25. Locals and folks from Colorado, everyone got along great. The common denominator was working hard for the good of Rosa's cafe but also for this small town.

The mural kind of became the symbol of the makeover. Fresh paint, new look. The white and black concrete wall now had a splash of color and pizazz. The black-lettered sign now was red. The front door painted red, too.

This wall symbolized the entire cafe. Newly-painted, new mural, new windows, and new shutters.

When meal time rolled around, we'd all walk about 4 blocks to the former-school-turned community center for meals. Rosa and the community ladies always fed us well and greeted us with warm smiles. Usually a number of locals would join us and sometime we'd have entertainment! For lunch one day we had a folk singing duo. For supper we had a country-western band!

Everyone that worked, about 100 people, got an "I Kan Help!" shirt in black or white. This is Michael Eravi, our Window Guy from Lawrence. People wore the shirts with pride. Volunteers worked about 1,300 hours during the weekend.

WenDee's job all weekend was to document, to Facebook, to Twitter, and to take pictures and videos. You'll get a better feel of everything if you go to these links.

A few pictures before we started. (Get to the pictures and then click on slideshow)

Alot of pics during the effort.

A few after. (If anyone goes to the cafe, send pictures!)

The grassy lot beside the cafe was filled with tools, supplies, and power saws and wash stations were located under tents. Inside, the place was completely torn apart. I bet Rosa shuddered every time she checked on us. At one point all of the windows were out making it look like we were creating windows for drive-through service. Not having windows did make it easy to pass supplies from outside to in.

There was plenty of water, pop, and Gatorade in big coolers under the trees. People would take breaks as they needed them. The local grocery store comped the bags of ice.

The beauty of the makeover was how everybody coordinated their movements and efforts and got along flawlessly.

The beauty was how the community and the volunteers came together, trusted each other, and worked for the same goal. Everyone was so selfless. This effort was for a business yet no one seemed to be jealous or question what we were doing. People sent on errands returned with the supplies and just said they'd donate the cost.

Rosa was a good catalyst. She's a character but has a big heart. Everyone knows she'd help them and everyone knows that a small town needs a cafe to be viable.

The cafe. The workers. The community.

You'd have to say it was all just beautiful.

Gene Merry, Burlington, is a Kansas Sampler Foundation board member. He was in charge of the project. Next is Rosa, then somehow I got in the picture. Bob Topping, Leavenworth, was the project foreman. The volunteers were the story though -- and most can be seen in these picture and video links.

Another good place to see a story and pictures of the project is at Flyover People.

It would be satisfying to know that just reading about this project helped people "Get Kansas!" You gotta love our rural towns.

KE #2 Marci Penner

1 comment:

Connie - KE #81 said...

You guys did a great job!
This is RURAL KANSAS at it's BEST!
I can hardly wait to get back to that part of the state and eat some of Rosa's yummy food.