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Coffee Break's Past, Present and Future

(Pictured Left to Right): Professional Dancer Sydney Duncan with Avant Chamber Ballet; Founder of PowerPointe Kenya W. Ross; Founder of Brown Girls Do Ballet Takiyah Wallace

Has a month passed by, already? For those of you taking a peek for the first time, I hosted my third annual community event Coffee Break 2018 on National Coffee Day (September 29th) by teaming up with Brown Girls Do Ballet in Dallas, TX at Magnolias. Although this is my third year hosting this event, so many are still clueless about what Coffee Break is, and why I've been doing this since 2016. Like I mentioned in the beginning, a few of you are learning about this for the first time! I'll make this a little easier. Allow me to explain when I first hosted Coffee Break, how I made it a little different this year and where I plan to take this annual event. By the way, you can view photos from Coffee Break 2018 here.

Coffee Break's Past

Two years ago, I represented Brown Girls Do Ballet as my platform for a pageant organization I participated in. All contestants of the pageant organization were required to organize and host a community service event related to their platform. This is what I knew for certain - If I was going to create a community service project, it had to be the best one! It didn't take me long to come up with a plan. Once I figured out all the details, I was on it! I planned to make my community service project a fundraiser through coffee sales at a local coffee shop in Shreveport called Bon Temps Coffee Bar, and I had a dancewear drive for gently used items. Initially, my fundraiser wasn't going to benefit Brown Girls Do Ballet.

The idea was to raise funds for a different dance nonprofit organization based in Shreveport, and have the Founder of Brown Girls Do Ballet Takiyah attend as a special guest. A short time passed, and I had a change of heart about the organization in Shreveport. So finally, the event was organized to where the fundraiser supported Brown Girls Do Ballet's Scholarship Program, and I still had the dancewear drive for anyone to donate their dance attire. In 2016, I hosted Coffee Break on International Coffee Day (October 1st).

The next year arrived quickly! I launched PowerPointe in March 2017, and I continued my community service event under PowerPointe after putting pageantry behind me. Coffee Break 2017 was hosted at Bon Temps Coffee Bar again, and I added an activity for participants: Pointe Paint Pose Party using paint from Pointe People.

Coffee Break's Present

Keyword.. growth! Growth is all I was thinking about for Coffee Break 2018. Growth in coffee sales, growth in fundraising for the scholarship program and growth in this event's presence. For this reason, I hired a PR manager from Austin to help with reaching a new audience. In addition, I moved this event to Dallas, TX! Why not try a different location? I'd say this year was much more special because, surprisingly, a local artist in Dallas donated her art to me! Her name is Andrea Castaneda; she's the Owner and Designer of Pressed Flower Crafts. I met her on the spur of the moment after she hosted her art class at Magnolias on National Coffee Day. Secondly, I invited a professional dancer from Avant Chamber Ballet - Sydney Duncan to have informal coffee chats with ballerinas in training who attend and then it hit me. My mission for Coffee Break became clearer. Finally, I pushed my online fundraising campaign, Développé and Grab a Frappé, to encourage everyone to donate the price of a venti frappe coffee ($5.00) to Brown Girls Do Ballet's Scholarship Program. We were aiming for #300Venti cups since this was Coffee Break's 3rd year! Before I go into the future of Coffee Break, here's a snippet of what Sydney discussed with one of Brown Girls Do Ballet's ambassadors Addison Mouser:

"Addison and I discussed ways in which she could rehab before and after her surgery. She has torn a ligament in her knee, and it is a very serious injury. I gave her exercises that will strengthen the muscles around her knees once she is out of surgery. I also told her about Pilates and what it will do for her body. It will not only strengthen her but elongate her muscles, which is what will help with the line of the leg crucial for ballet. We also talked about mental health, how to deal with being the only black girl in the room, how to stay strong when you feel no one is rooting for you and what she should do for her soul while in recovery. I told her stories of my upbringing and how it shaped me. We talked about different dancers that inspired us but also her future as well. It was great to tell her all the things I wish I could have told myself at that age. It was a great conversation and can’t wait to have more with other young girls!" -- Sydney Duncan with Avant Chamber Ballet

Coffee Break's Future

Yes, there's a future for Coffee Break, and this year, its mission and vision became much more clearer.

Mission: To increase visibility and provide direct mentorship for underrepresented ballerinas in training by connecting with professional dancers through informal coffee chats

Vision: Partnering with coffee shops to assist with fundraising for Brown Girls Do Ballet's Scholarship Program, and ultimately influencing young dancers to go back in the studio focused, to never think about quitting and to continue raising the barre

Each year, the objective is to build relationships with different coffee shops and help promote them prior to National Coffee Day and International Coffee Day. The future of Coffee Break is to partner with a different coffee shop annually to help raise funds for Brown Girls Do Ballet's Scholarship Program through coffee drink purchases, and build a "one-day" mentor network by inviting professional dancers to informally speak with young dancers over coffee. It is my hope that the "one-day" mentor network between the professional dancers and dancers in training will bloom into something beyond the Coffee Break event/season.

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