THE COFFEEHOUSE PROJECT®
Our Mission: To enhance people's lives through participatory music making, regardless of their situation or abilities.
Our Values: We believe that music is a means to achieve personal wellness and develop community. We practice inclusiveness and encourage commitment to shared outcomes. Ability levels vary but we all have the capacity to experience enthusiasm, joy and dedication.
The Coffeehouse Project Inc. is a a registered 501(c)(3) community music organization dedicated to providing arts education, with a focus on music making in the community, through classes, workshops, presentations and performances. Programming is directed toward people living in New Jersey who, otherwise, might not have outlets for artistic expression. Populations served include children and adults with special emphasis on providing music-making opportunities for seniors and people with additional needs.
This program is made possible, in part, by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State and administered by the Somerset County Cultural & Heritage Commission through the State/County Partnership Local Arts Program Grant.
John Ruán Fitzpatrick (Founder, CEO and Artistic Director) has more than twenty years of experience as an educator, a musician and a support for individuals with special needs. He earned an MA in Community Music at the Irish World Academy in Limerick, Ireland.
Rebecca (Becca) Kaian (COO and Music Leader) can't remember a time when she wasn't singing; most recently, a 14 year stint with her local community choir gave way to singing in a rock band, learning the guitar in earnest and writing songs. Becca is a former social research scientist and current marketing manager who earned her MBA from Rutgers University and has a passion for working with start-up companies/organizations.
Marilyn Tuzzo (Volunteer Extraordinaire) is a retired public school educator (Latin, Peer Leadership, ESL) with an M.Ed. in International and Overseas Teaching and Administration from TCNJ. Marilyn is committed to supporting causes which are empowering, healing and joyful. Inspired by her experiences with The Coffeehouse Project programs, she has sought new musical endeavors, including completion of the Level 1 Sound Healing course through Atma Buti School.
Steve Pavis (Volunteer and Inspiration) has been John’s music guru since they were in sixth grade together at St. Clare’s school on Staten Island. Growing up at the younger end of eight siblings, Steve had early exposure to lots of 1960s music; by the time punk came along Steve was old enough to hit the clubs in downtown Manhattan and was at CBGB to see The Ramones and Blondie as well as the first ever Stateside performance of The Jam. Steve turned John on to the punk and new wave scene and through the years has been a touchstone for all kinds of music worth investigating. Steve’s “New Yawk” charisma and hi-energy make him a very dynamic music facilitator for CHP, especially at The Arc day programs we visit.
Nicole Lohrbeer (President) has been an instructor at Mesa Community College for the past 15 years. A lifelong educator and coach, she founded Change inSight Consulting LLC to help people and organizations create dynamic change.
Sacha Forgoston (Secretary) is a mathematics lecturer at Rutgers University. As a teacher, she is dedicated to helping people learn to master new skills.
Lawrence Barber (Treasurer) is an LPN and administrative assistant who has spent years studying education. He values giving back through volunteering and serves on the board of String of Pearls Animal Shelter.
Weatherly Morgan (Board Member) helps non-profits for a living through website development and online marketing. She is a past-president and served for over ten years on the Board for the Front Royal/Warren County United Way.
Loretta Hodgson (Board Member) is a retired Montessori Preschool teacher who has taught hundreds of children during her career. She has also been a professional clown and ventriloquist. Loretta is now the volunteer coordinator of FACT (Friends Acting and Caring Together) which provides monthly meals to people in need in the Essex County area. She volunteers locally in her community and desires to make a positive difference.