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Brewing a sense of community

Harbor Hall residents offer the community free coffee

Joshua Belice, community director of Harbor Hall, has been offering residents a daily dose of caffeine in an effort to enrich the community. After an initially uncertain future, community donations have kept the program going.

Lazy sun drapes across the half-shoveled courtyard and filters through the windows of the Harbor Cafe. The room is warm and cozy, and it almost seems like there should be a fire crackling in the corner. Everything is still. An abandoned, empty mug with a bible quote on it sits on a table in the center of the room like part of a still life painting.

At the far end, without ceremony, a silver urn sighs peacefully every ten seconds over the hum of the soda machines. The gentle sounds and the muted Hopper-esque colors of the scene are enough to lull anyone to sleep, until a guy comes in and breaks the spell.

He walks in and makes his way over to the urn. As he fills his mug with steaming coffee, he takes a vibrantly green muffin, places it between his teeth and leaves the cafe to return to his dorm. It’s four in the afternoon, but all day people have been stopping by.

These students have been taking advantage of a new Res Life initiative. In the Harbor Café, every morning for the last few weeks, residents are welcome to fill up for free. Today’s blend is Chocolate Hazelnut Heaven.

The idea to offer residents a free cup of joe came from Harbor Community Director Joshua Belice, known around the hall as CD Josh. He wanted a good way to bring people together and coffee fit the bill.

“I’m an extreme couponer and, also, in a coffee club,” said Belice. In the program’s first few days, CD Josh provided the coffee. Since it has become popular, the cost is now covered by the building’s budget.

According to Belice, the promise of free coffee led residents to blow through 80 cups in two days. “It’s a really cool surprise,” he said.

Due to this unanticipated boom, now into the third week of free coffee, Res Life requests that residents bring their own mugs.

As for flavor preferences, there hasn’t been a definitive choice. However, Belice said, “Harbor likes regular coffee far better [than decaf].”

Students are stopping by to fuel up on their way to classes. Belice also mentioned that he is working with a student organization to potentially provide tea as an alternative for those who prefer it.

Though it may be a smaller-scale Res Life event, Belice argued its value. “I think you have to keep residents engaged,” he said. “You’re the reason why we’re here, so we like to keep you happy and guessing.”

Addressing those who might roll their eyes at school-sponsored events when there are so many other options, Belice was understanding. “Go have fun, but we’re here too,” he said, “as long as people know that we’re an option.” Programs like this free coffee event foster a sense of community without demanding much time.

When asked how long he plans to keep this up, he said, “‘Till the coffee runs out.” Initially, this was intended to last about two weeks, but Belice began working on it and asking students to donate their own coffee supplies.

“Harbor has been very generous to us, and clearly said it wants the coffee program to continue,” said Belice, a week after the coffee was slated to run out. “We’ve had several large donations of coffee and coffee supplies made, so we should be able to continue for at least another month.”

It is clear that CD Josh’s little idea to bring people together has been a success. On a campus where students often complain about a lack of student involvement, there’s nothing like some free coffee to wake everyone up. Quoting one Harbor resident who donated, Belice said, “I hope the free coffee initiative never ends.”


Photo Credit: James Gallagher