State College, PA – While celebrating a record-breaking year of philanthropy, Centre Foundation recently announced this year’s $100,000 Centre Inspires grant recipient as Strawberry Fields for their proposal of a coffee shop that employs people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Centre Foundation also named Mimi Barash Coppersmith as the 2017 Oak Tree Award recipient.


“The Centre Inspires granting program encourages innovative programs to create transformation for our community,” explained Molly Kunkel, Executive Director at Center Foundation. “Strawberry Fields’ coffee shop idea is brand new to our area, and has the potential to truly change the lives of everyone involved.”


The coffee shop, which has not yet been named, will be modeled after Bitty & Beau’s Coffee, located in Wilmington, N.C. Dr. Roy Love of Nittany Valley Chiropractic Center had first experienced Bitty & Beau’s while visiting his daughter at college.

“And I kept going back. I don’t even drink coffee, but it was the experience and warm feeling that I got from the employees that kept taking me back,” said Love. “I knew that a coffee shop like this would be well received in State College, so I proposed the concept to Strawberry Fields.”

Strawberry Fields is finalizing the location of the coffee shop and plans to open in late Spring 2018.

“Strawberry Fields is honored to be the recipient of the 2017 Centre Inspires Award,” said Cindy Pasquinelli, CEO at Strawberry Fields. “This coffee shop is a joint effort of many local partners who share our dream of a future that holds inclusion, acceptance, and employment for an underserved group of people. We are proud to have Centre Foundation join us in this new venture.”

On hand to congratulate Strawberry Fields was last year’s grant recipient, Centred Outdoors, proposed by ClearWater Conservancy. The program was designed to connect people with nature through guided family-friendly outings. The tours achieved record engagement this summer with nearly 2,000 residents signing up for one of the nine tours.

Another strong supporter of Centre County was recognized last night with Centre Foundation’s annual Oak Tree Award. This year’s award was presented to Mimi Barash Coppersmith, long-time resident of State College and dedicated philanthropist. As an additional honor, the creation of the Mimi Barash Coppersmith Women in Leadership Fund was announced. Created by Barbara Palmer, Mimi’s longtime friend, the fund creates a lasting tribute to Mimi’s success and her role in encouraging and mentoring local women in leadership roles.  


In addition to her many accomplishments in the community, Mimi has established two funds at Centre Foundation and has been instrumental in opening a third.  Since its inception in 2005, the Mimi Fund has grown to $20,000 and has supported the ongoing work of Centre Foundation. In 2013, Mimi established the Mimi Barash Coppersmith Fund for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania (GSHPA), which has grown to $73,000 and has provided camp scholarships for girls throughout central and northeastern Pennsylvania. Most recently, Mimi worked with her daughter Nan Barash to establish the Bon Bon Fund, which will provide scholarships to State College High School students who experienced the loss of a parent.

The evening also featured remarks from Dr. Richard Alley, the Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences at Pennsylvania State University and 2007 Nobel Prize winner for his contributions to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He shared with the audience the importance of engaging and understanding our local environment and what we need to know to keep it healthy.  

“Dr. Alley is not only very well known for his research on climate change but also for his engaging style of presenting that research, as shown in the PBS mini-series he hosted, Earth, the Operator’s Manual.  We were honored to have him speak to us about the importance of caring for our environment, which emphasizes what Centred Outdoors had been doing all summer,” noted Kunkel.


More than 200 community members attended the dinner, which is held each year in appreciation of donors who have utilized Centre Foundation as a way to make an impact in our area by establishing non-profit organizational endowment funds. Donors can also be engaged and make an impact through the Foundation’s Giving Circle, Centre Gives, Centre PACT – Philanthropic Actions Created by Teens, or by joining the Campbell Legacy Society for future gifts.


For more information or to get involved with Centre Foundation, please contact Shalen Perehinec (shalen@centre-foundation.org | 814-237-6229).