We can definitely use a little more kindness in this world. Breanne Zolfo is doing her part to make her corner of it — Crown Point — a better place and helping it spread beyond her community.
The 31-year-old coffee shop owner started her kindness campaign six years ago. She’s used her business, Cafe Fresco at 1 N. Court St., to help give people a boost by putting uplifting messages on their coffee cup sleeves and inspirational suggestions of random acts of kindness to perform and she’s used tip money to surprise people shopping in grocery stores by paying for their items. She also started a Facebook group called Community Love, where individuals volunteer time and contribute financially to help fulfill needs of those in the community. The group of volunteers has grown to about 50.
With a belief that “we can change the world, one random act of kindness at a time,” Zolfo and her team of volunteers have done some meaningful things for others. “We’ve been able to make a down payment on a car, buy a bicycle for a homeless man, pay for a woman’s rent, provide clothing, food or other necessities for residents,” she said.
In a segment broadcast on "CBS Morning News" this year about the coffee shop, Zolfo was asked whether people she’s helped come back to thank her. She mentioned the homeless man who received the bike. He came back to let her know how much that act changed his life: Having that mode of transportation helped him to get a job, which led to him getting an apartment.
When Zolfo learns of a need, she puts it out to her volunteer group. “Within days, it is fulfilled. The volunteers support the needs either financially or physically,” she said. “They love giving back and are so willing when the needs arise. Because of these selfless people, we’ve been able to spread so much more community love.”
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Zolfo estimates that more than 1,000 have benefited from the project. “We are always looking for new ways to give back to our community. It takes a village and the more we are aware of need, the more help we can provide.”
That was her objective in opening Cafe Fresco. “The cafe has allowed me to meet so many amazing people and become inspired by their stories,” said Zolfo.
At the cafe, she serves Intelligentsia coffee, smoothies, homemade hot chocolate, bubble tea and pastries from local bakeries. Her father owns The Yoga Room in Crown Point and her mom teaches second grade in Schererville. She has two younger brothers; one works in Michigan in the IT field and the other is an actor and producer in New York.
“This cafe and its mission of community love has been so much more than I could’ve hoped for,” said Zolfo. “I’m so thankful to each and every person in our community for their continued loved and support. They are what makes Community Love what it is.”