dave-mittlemanIt’s expensive to go to college these days. As the father of two children, I’ve had first-hand experience with paying hefty tuition bills. Other students are even unluckier, since they’re forced to take on multiple jobs to pay for their schooling, or worse, they’re stuck with thousands of dollars of students loans to pay off after they graduate–and that’s an even rougher haul when it’s so difficult to get a job in Michigan these days. Furthermore, student aid such as the Michigan Promise scholarship was cut under mounting pressure to balance the state’s budget.

But then there’s William Hosner, a blessing to students working hard at local coffee shops to pay for school and other school-related bills. Hosner, a 60-year-old artist, got to know the 19- and 20-year olds working at his local coffee shop in Petoskey, MI. He’d ask them: “are you in school this semester?” Time after time, the answer would be “no, I’m saving up to go back next semester”. But he also found out that they all had dreams and visions for their lives, and it wasn’t to continue working at the coffee shop. Naturally, he wondered what he could do to help.

Hosner isn’t just any artist–he’s actually an award-winning artist. Putting his skills to work, Hosner decided to post a sign-up list at the coffee shop for any baristas who wanted to pop by the coffee shop after work and have their portraits drawn. He paid them $30 each to sit for four 15-minute increments. After creating over a dozen portraits in Petoskey, he traveled to Traverse City and drew more baristas. His original plan was to put on an art show, sell what he could, take half the proceeds and donate the rest. However, the Petoskey-Harbor Springs Community foundation received word of his good work and promised him that they would set up a $1,000 per year scholarship going if he could make $10,000 from his paintings. Hosner did just that, and soon the Caf Society Educational Fund was set up, a needs-based scholarship for any college student who has worked or is currently working in a Northern Michigan coffee shop. All proceeds from his paintings now go towards the foundation and anyone who donates a $1,000 or more receives a painting.