Wednesday, October 17 , 2018, 9:17 am | Fair 63º

 
 
 
 

Paul Orfalea, Alicia Estrada Provide Inspirational Perspective for Dons Net Café

Santa Barbara High's student entrepreneurs open a healthy-eating alternative for campus diners

Be comfortable.

If Paul Orfalea could go back in time, that’s what he would tell his younger self.

“I wish that I knew I was OK,” the entrepreneur and Kinko’s founder said at Friday’s grand opening of the Dons Net Café at Santa Barbara High School. “I was insecure, everybody is. I wish I had given myself permission to be insecure.”

Orfalea and clothes designer Alicia Estrada were the keynote speakers at the event, and they shared their business expertise and life lessons.

“What we’ve done in society and in schools is become people pleasers,” Orfalea told about 250 people inside the Santa Barbara High Theatre. “We’re always pleasing somebody else. It’s time to start pleasing yourself. Go to your intuition and say ‘I learned this for me.’”

The only measure of success in life is happiness, Orfalea said, but when it comes to a successful business he maintains that there are three main elements.

“Motivate your workers, understand your customers and balance your checkbook,” he said. “That’s all you do.”

Dons Net Café CEO Olivia Alvarado described Orfalea’s speech as inspirational.

“I liked how he said when we were 5 years old we weren’t scared, but now that we’re older, people have told us we can’t do those things,” she said. “But we can’t be afraid to take risks as an entrepreneur.”

The Dons Net Café is a self-sustaining and student-run organization that provides services and products, not only locally but throughout the world. It started as a volunteer tax site in 1993, evolved into a virtual enterprise class and has become a real and profitable business.

Dons Net Café student entrepreneurs introduce the Santa Barbara High organization's newest idea: The Spot, which will offer students a healthy-eating alternative to fast food.
Dons Net Café student entrepreneurs introduce the Santa Barbara High organization’s newest idea: The Spot, which will offer students a healthy-eating alternative to fast food. (Garrett Geyer / Noozhawk photo)

Lee Knodel, better known as Ms. B, uses project- and community-based learning inside and outside of the classroom.

“People are looking for the answer to education and we found the answer,” she said. “The answer is connecting students to what matters in the world, not teaching what they are going to do one day but having kids do it today.”

The students showcased several projects, including the XSProject, which gives trash pickers in Indonesia free-trade wages by purchasing trash at higher-than-average prices. The Dons Net Café teamed up with XSProject to hire special-needs workers to construct bags made from soap and billboard. The students then purchase them and sell them locally.

“Our slogan is ‘Doing some good in the world’ and we try to help the community and other parts of the world,” Alvarado said. “We actually make a difference.”

Students also purchase and sell the Du Ubunto orphan bracelet, which was handcrafted by local South African women living with AIDS. All of the proceeds go toward helping families in South Africa.

The Spot is another Dons Net Café project and will offer a healthy-eating alternative to the fast food that many Santa Barbara High students often seek on Milpas Street. The café plans to start a community garden and composting.

“More than 600 kids walk by our classroom on Canon Perdido to eat lunch on Milpas Street, which is unhealthy,” Alvarado said. “So we are trying to serve healthy food and get people to come to The Spot.”

The Orfalea Foundations have similar goals through the s’Cool Food Initiative.

“(Don’s Net Café) has so many links to nutrition and success in life,” Orfalea said. “This school should be teaching students to eat properly.”

Knodel hopes other campuses can adopt the Dons Net Café model. But teachers need more incentive to produce more successful programs, she said.

“It helps if the teacher knows technology, business and accounting, but more important than that is you need someone who loves the kids,” Knodel said. “You can’t be an in-the-box teacher. These kids are my life.”

Noozhawk business writer Alex Kacik can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.