Grace Cafe spotlighted by Obama Foundation, Segment included on ‘Your Voice’ highlights on website

Published 6:27 am Thursday, October 18, 2018

This summer, Rochelle Bayless spent a day filming with The Obama Foundation, to be included as a featured organization that gives back to its community. The video was released Tuesday, and by Wednesday, Bayless said it had 43,000 views on the foundation’s Facebook page, and was shared 883 times in 21 hours.

“It’s huge for Danville,” Bayless said.

The 2-minute spot was part of the foundation’s “Your Voice” highlights, posted on The page says the foundation is “guided by a core belief: that ordinary people working together can change history.” It explains the segments’ missions are to inspire those people to take to action, empower them to change the world for the better, and “connect them so they can achieve more together than they can alone.”

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The crew spent a day with her this summer, but Bayless was allowed to tell no one.

“I had to sign a non-disclosure, and there was no guarantee they’d promote us or anything like that,” she said. But when she received 104 Twitter notifications — she joked she usually gets about one per week — in one day, she was elated.

Just after Obama announced his foundation after the election in 2016, Bayless signed up for his newsletter. She received an email blast that asked for people to write in and tell the foundation what they’re doing to make a difference in their community.

“I thought heck, why not. I wrote about what we’re doing here, and how the community is coming together and embracing this.” Then she submitted it, and honestly — she said she didn’t think another thing about it.

She heard back from them later, and said organizers were basically screening her.

When the film crew came out, she also admits — “I was a little bit nerve-wracked. I’m not usually nervous in front of a camera …”

The piece shows different shots of not only people eating and volunteering inside the cafe, but shots all over town as well.

In the spot, Bayless is interviewed and tells the story of why she began the cafe, highlighting that “active citizenship is what we’re all doing here,” in reference to the “pay what you can” mantra, and volunteering to make up payment for a meal.

“We offer a hand up, not a handout,” Bayless says in the video. “I noticed a huge gap between people who were able to access healthy food and people who were not … I felt it was unfair, looking down this beautiful Main Street … This model of the community café brings everybody together to work on a common problem. Every single day, people tell me how this place has changed their lives, how it’s saved their lives.”

Over the phone, Bayless was asked what she feels the video’s circulation may do for the community. “It puts Danville on an international stage that it is a community (of people) who are deeply caring about this issue, who have come together around the mission,” Bayless says. “As I said in the video, it’s about active citizenship, which really describes what Danville is about.”

To view the video, visit