Last Saturday, April 27, a team of volunteers rounded up by Odell Brewing [web|fb] got together to apply a few new layers of color to the interior of the Center for Family Outreach in Fort Collins [web|fb]. The CFFO is a non-profit which works with adolescents to cultivate positive life choices and healthy relationships with family and peers. In the words of Director Laurie Klith, these are “kids who are facing some challenge,” ranging from anger-management to substance abuse to run-of-the-mill teenage drama. After 13 years at their previous location, the center recently moved into a new space with a larger footprint and a need for a livening touch of anything-but-eggshell-white. With painting supplies provided by Fort Collins-based OtterBox [web|fb] and labor supplied by Odell’s outreach program [web], volunteers had base coats applied to four rooms in no time flat. Meanwhile, a group of the center’s kids were hard at work in the kitchen preparing an impressive meal of lasagna, French bread, salad, and lemonade (again with financial support from OtterBox). Lunch was preceded by a thank-you poster and an earnest toast from the kids, and followed by second coats of paint and mural work by those who were feeling both artistic and brave.
Free from their culinary duties, the kids joined in on the brush and roller work for the afternoon, voted on quotes to be inscribed upon their classroom walls, and generally made us all feel that we were doing worthwhile work for people who genuinely appreciated it. For whatever bumps in the road these kids are experiencing now, they by and large came across as future assets to society. And this is due in no small part, I’m sure, to the support, encouragement, and guidance of caring individuals around them such as those at the Center for Family Outreach.
As you might expect, the intersection of beer people and volunteers is a sublime sliver in life’s grand Venn diagram. Teachers, coppers, and candlestick makers, each was a pleasure to work with and to get to know after we’d released our rollers and picked up some pints at the Odell taproom. Karla Baise, Odell’s Community Outreach Coordinator, and her husband John, who manages packaging operations, gave us an impromptu tour around the brewery and basically treated us like sweaty, paint-splattered royalty (oh man, that barrel room!). These guys know a thing or two about volunteer retention. And once word spread that I’d ridden my bike up from Denver, seemingly half the group offered me a couch for the night. As nice as it was sleeping on the bank of Poudre River at the edge of town the night before, I was grateful for a warm, soft place to rest after a couple long days of pedaling and painting. And the next day’s seventy miles through farmland and suburbs made sure I had time to reflect on how grateful I am for good people, good beer, and a good bike. A fantastic weekend it was.