The Oldtown Church Coffeehouse was been a welcoming place for the young people of our community to express themselves in music and poetry beginning in 2004. The coffeehouses took a brief hiatus during the COVID pandemic, but they started up again at the North Attleboro High School. The many young, talented musicians and poets who participated in our coffeehouses, both as performers and by managing and presenting the events, continue to be supported by their peers.
At Oldtown, our coffeehouses were open to performers and patrons of all ages. These events were organized and led by our community’s young people, with our church’s Missions Ministry sponsoring these events at the church. The coffeehouses provided a great place for young and old alike to come together to showcase their musical or literary talents or just to enjoy the fellowship, listen to some good music and poetry, and have a comfortable, safe place to hang out on a Friday night. As described by one of the Coffeehouse’s founders, Kait Russo (né Clavette), the purpose of the Coffeehouse is to “use the best qualities of fellowship, to use music, art, coffee, and a small donation to remind the world that we care – to help and to give back to those less fortunate – to be able to help when on our own, we could not. The coffeehouse is about awareness as much as it is about support.”
From the beginning, coffeehouses highlighted giving back to the community and the world by donating all of the proceeds from admission and refreshments to various local, national, and global charities, selected for each coffeehouse by the coffeehouse crew, and that tradition continues to this day at the high school. At the time the coffeehouses moved from the church to the high school, over $76,000 had been raised and donated!
The Oldtown Coffeehouse was first organized in June 2004 by North Attleborough High School juniors Kait Clavette and Cara Fertitta. Kait, a member of Oldtown Church, enlisted the help of fellow church members Tammy England and Patti McAlpine, and the first coffeehouse raised $220.50 for the Oldtown Church Steeple Restoration project. Kait and Cara took on the mission and kept arranging monthly coffeehouses through May 2006. Each event supported a different charity that they chose. They arranged the talent list, publicity, and logistics for each event with the help of Christine Pandozzi from the Oldtown Missions Committee and June and Ed Clavette as “roadies” or “chaperones.” What developed was an event where young people of all ages could perform with encouragement from the audience. And everyone grew in the experience.
In 2006, Kait and Cara were recognized for their efforts by CosmoGirl! magazine, who named them among the year’s people “Born to Lead” in the December-January issue of the magazine and awarded them a $10,000 CosmoGirl! of the Year scholarship grant sponsored by Maybelline New York. The award was reported in the November 22, 2006, issue of the Attleboro Sun Chronicle. We are exceedingly proud of Cara and Kait, and of all the young people who continue to make our Oldtown Church Coffeehouse a great place to come and hear good music on a Friday night while helping those in need.
In September 2006, the leadership role was passed on to another group of young leaders, continuing the relationship with the church and our missions ministry, and the Coffeehouse Crew was born. As the Coffeehouse Crew leaders graduate high school and move on to further education, new leaders step up to take the reins. Each crew member learns the logistics and responsibilities of running each event. They are responsible for selecting the charity to support, integrating the dates of the events with their school activities, managing publicity, enlisting performers, physically transforming the space into a coffeehouse, and cleaning up when it’s all done. They learn to create a welcoming, safe, and encouraging place for our youth… of all ages.
At some point, we may revive coffeehouses at the church. Until then, we invite you to find out more about the coffeehouses at North Attleboro High School.