Austintown Fitch students will have a different atmosphere when they head to the cafeteria this fall. The entire area was painted and cleaned by an all-volunteer crew last week.
"We wanted to update the cafeteria this year," said Austintown Food Service Director Tascin Brooks. "We took the approach of what one looks for in a good restaurant."
She said restaurants are generally picked for atmosphere, food and presentation. While her department has the latter two taken care of, the atmosphere needed some attention. She added that when the desire to renovate the cafeteria came up, there just weren't enough people to make it happen.
Photos by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
Monica Doyle, Elysabethe O’Hara, and Megan Doyle, all from Girl Scout Troop 899 in Austintown volunteered their time to clean the tile walls at the Fitch cafeteria last week as part of a program to spruce up the area before the start of school.
"The janitorial and maintenance staff was already slammed with work to be done over the summer," Brooks said.
While discussing it with her department secretary, Natalie Winkle, an idea came up. Prior to her being hired for the food service department, Winkle had been employed at Home Depot. She mentioned that stores "Team Depot" program where store employees volunteered for community projects as a way of giving back. Brooks wasted no time and sent letters off to both the Austintown and Boardman stores.
"Boardman Home Depot was the first to respond and they were very enthusiastic about it," Brooks said. The Austintown store responded as well and before Brooks knew it, she had a team of volunteers ready to go.
"These are opportunities we look for," said Boardman Home Depot manager Buddy Colley. "Boardman took the lead and we teamed up with Austintown to make this happen."
Between the two Home Depot stores, 25 volunteers showed up, including four members of Austintown Girl Scout Troop 889. Brooks also got another surprise. John Sheridan from the Glidden paint company pitched in as well.
"We try to do a couple of projects each year," Sheridan said. "We partnered with Home Depot and provided the paint and a few more helping hands for the project."
The new paint scheme called for a fresh bright white on the ceiling and a softer earth tone on the walls. The painting was completed last week, leaving just one more final touch.
Brooks said the sliding wall panels on the kitchen side of the room will be faced with a giant mural.
"The panels will have everything Austintown Fitch is known for from music, sports, curriculum, morals, integrity, health and wellness," Brooks said. "It will be our spirit wall."
When school opens this fall, the students will be greeted with a new, comfortable look that should make their dining experience a good one.
"It should make for a great atmosphere for lunch time," Brooks said. "After all, where else do you have 1,500 customers delivered daily to your restaurant to dine?"