“Pouring Love into the Soil + Parking Lot of Luna y Sol Cafe” as part of United Way’s 24th annual Days of Caring

Published: Oct. 20, 2023 at 8:43 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - Local volunteers helped with different projects around southern Arizona, showing their support for United Way’s 24th annual Days of Caring.

Pouring Love into the Soil + Parking lot of Luna y Sol Cafe in South Tucson had help from many helping hands.

Selina Barajas is a fourth-generation South Tucsonan. She had a calling to do more for her community, leading her to buy a building with a known history and make it new.

“For me, South Tucson has a very special place in my heart,” Selina Barajas, the Co-Owner of “Luna y Sol Cafe” said.

Selina Barajas said creating a much-needed safe space in the area is what inspired her to open the first locally-owned coffee shop in the heart of South Tucson.

“As someone who grew up on the south side, there has always been a lack of coffee shops, specifically local coffee shops,” Selina Barajas said. “There is not one in the city of South Tucson. I love coffee and the community, so I wanted to merge the two.”

According to Abraham Barajas, Selina’s husband came up with the vision for “Luna y Sol Cafe” decades ago while in school.

“The name came together as Luna Y Sol named after our daughters,” Abraham Barajas, the Co-Owner of Luna y Sol Cafe, said. Looking back at that moment when I was in school. Wow, it just all came together.”

Organizers say “Luna y Sol Cafe” is the perfect example of the type of projects United Way helps with.

“The parking lot of Luna y Sol Cafe really started when we received the $5,000 Social Impact Award through the United Way Foundation of Tucson and southern Arizona,” Selina Barajas said. “Our goal has been since getting this property to invest in the soil and put some love and create more green infrastructure and opportunities for this community.”

According to Melissa D’Auria, the Chief Advancement Officer for United Way of Southern Arizona volunteers helped with 160 projects across the Old Pueblo, helping with projects at schools, parks, and local businesses.

Volunteers from the University of Arizona, the city of South Tucson, Barrio’s Restoration, David Garcia Landscaping, and the Tucson Audubon Society helped transform the space.

“You get so much more out of your community when you give back to it,” D’Auria said. “I think Tucson gets that. We are really all about the more you are engrained, the more you can participate in the community, the more we all win.”

Naomi Montaño Drew has lived in South Tucson her whole life. Montaño Drew said giving back to a place she feels has been overlooked is why she got involved and is now encouraging others to do the same.

“It’s going to offer a safe space for everyone to come together,” Montaño Drew said. “Reach as far as we can out to the community to the younger group to the older group.”

According to the business owners, this is just the project’s first phase. The hope is to keep adding to the space, allowing for workshops, fitness classes, and of course, a nice cup of cafecito and pan dulce.

The Barajas hope to have Luna y Sol Cafe opened and ready to serve customers in 2024.

Organizers said there are plenty of opportunities to help out if you weren’t able to volunteer and are encouraging the community to seek other ways to give back.

  1. Pima Animal Care Center (Volunteers will assist with raking play yards, cleaning, and reading to dogs. They will be on-site at PACC from 8:00 A.M. to 10:00 A.M., at 4000 N Silverbell Rd.
  2. Mansfeld Middle School - Bulldog Saturday (Currently, there are over 40 volunteers signed up to improve the school grounds and help organize supplies). Volunteers will be there from 9:00 A.M. to 12:00 P.M. at 1300 East 6th Street.

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