Carmela Coffee owners Rafael Baretta and Rainier Abreu.

By Jill Fox

For those looking to embrace their creativity while enjoying a cup of Joe, visit Carmela Coffee Company for a relaxing Sunday afternoon of art-making for a good cause.

Beyond Talk: An art experience is an opportunity to educate people about art therapy while they explore their creative sides hosted by art therapist, Alicia Ballestas will take place at Carmela Coffee Company and support Shine MSD, an organization that raises relief funds for victims and their families as well as providing mental health programs centered around the arts at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Ballestas teaches students to use creative messages to express themselves therapeutically through visual art, like drawing, painting, sculpting and even photography. As an art therapist for Miami-Dade Schools, she is already familiar with working with students. She has met with MSD students since the shooting, first participating in Camp Shine over the summer.

Shine MSD board member, Betty Pena reached out with this idea about Parkland residents creating an image as a community which seemed perfect for her.

Betty Peña called me and told me about the giant chalkboard inside the Carmela. She thought that I was the ideal person to work with the Parkland coffee shop because I knew the community so well,” said Ballestas, who graduated from Coral Springs High School and has lived locally since 1998.

The idea was to create a community mural on the chalkboard that students and their families could design together. She knew that MSD students frequented Carmela, and she felt that this process would bring a sense of connection to the community while people explored the art itself.

“Sometimes words are just not enough,” she said.

Ballestas has taken an active role in educating the community about art therapy through her participation in “The Real Art Therapists of New York,” a coloring book about art therapy and the significance of creativity as a contribution to one’s well-being.

She plans to bring the coloring pages that specifically relate to the event for those who would rather not focus on the mural.

As Carmela gains popularity, owner, Rainier Abreu explained that locals will see more and more events like these. Shine MSD has already had an open mic night for students to sing and play music, complete with piano, guitar, poetry and rap.

Ballestas said that through Shine MSD, she has had the opportunity to connect and help the community heal through creative arts alongside other talented creative art therapists.

Beyond Talk: An art experience will take place Sunday, January 27 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., at Carmela Coffee Company at 7967 North University Drive in Parkland.