Whether perched on a hill in Nicaragua or dangling from a rock ledge at his favorite crag in Austin, Project Schoolhouse supporter Joe Lozano is a guy who likes to take risks and loves a good joke. He often knows what he likes right when he first sees it. Joe leans fully into life with a curiosity that pushes him to wander into the middle of adventures. Even before he realizes he’s there. He relishes a challenge, as the adage goes, “because it’s there.”
In walks Tab Barker
So, when Project Schoolhouse’s (PSH) founder Tab Barker strolled into the business that Joe had built over the past decade, Third Coast Coffee Roasters, it didn’t take long for Joe to agree to donate coffee for our donors.
“I run into a lot of people who say they are doing things. But not a lot who are really doing what they say.”
Asked why Third Coast Coffee Roasters partners with Project Schoolhouse Joe says, matter-of-factly, “When Tab and I first met, we hit it off instantly because we travel a lot of the same ground in Nicaragua. I run into a lot of people who say they are doing things. But not a lot who are really doing what they say.” Joe finds Tab and PSH to be refreshingly genuine, authentic, and credible. And he adds, “When you first meet him, Tab comes off as an ‘aw shucks’ kind of guy, but the thing is, he really really gets it.”
That “it” is international community development at the local level, the most human of scales. Just as PSH builds schools designed to serve as the heart of rural communities, Third Coast Coffee and the 20-member coffee cooperative Joe helped found, Cooperative Coffees work locally. They support producer cooperatives that can quickly become powerful forces for improving rural livelihoods in places like Nicaragua.
Charting His Own Authentic Path
Like PSH, that path for Joe includes having visited the region multiple times. Third Coast Coffee evaluates its impact in terms of relationships and quality of life for partner communities. His approach counters what he’s found in the field. Joe has seen his share of big promises doled out almost flippantly to local communities. He takes a more pragmatic tack, based on his sense of what people really want: “I’ve found over and over that people are less interested in you helping with all aspects of their lives. They’re really just dog gone tired of being poor.” It’s this straight shooting that helped him relate to Tab and PSH. As Joe sees it, PSH has its boots firmly on the ground. PSH’s focus is local, achievable, and essential, not promising everything to everyone.
“I’ve found over and over that people are less interested in you helping with all aspects of their lives. They’re really just dog gone tired of being poor.”
While Joe wouldn’t be one to make a big deal out of backing our cause, it’s impossible to downplay the importance of Third Coast Coffee’s donations. They help us give thanks to many of our amazing donors. Direct giving accounts for a huge part of what makes PSH tick. Supporters act as champions. They attract their friends and neighbors, people they know with a shared philosophy. They’re authentic, just like Joe. And they can explain better than we ever could on our own just how crucial their support is in places like rural Nicaragua.
We’re humbled that we can count Joe as one of our most valued and consistent amigos. All of us need a great cup of joe to keep us going day in and day out. Gracias Joe!