Updated: Mar 31, 2020
This is the start of my first blog about the journey of the café. I’m not necessarily a writer, I tend to leave that up to my brother. He is an amazing writer, but I have a story to tell and I have been encouraged to tell it.
I started Jobs4U with my friend Sam about 4 years ago in my kitchen. We had no idea where the idea would go. We wanted to start an employment skills training program for persons with special needs. We are contracted with Vocational Rehabilitation and Agency for Persons with Disabilities. We rented a building and lo and behold we started getting referrals. It was so exciting. We were offering a new type of program for our population in Okaloosa County. People liked the program and our ideas. What a thrill for all of us.
One of the things we found that everyone had in common, the clients (we call them interns) and the staff, is coffee. We started talking and joking about opening a café run by persons with disabilities. We would all critique the various coffees around town. It was fun, but quickly we started talking about having our own coffee shop and we would serve good coffee. It was a dream, but we planned anyway. It has been fun.
After a lot of planning and waiting, we are finally on our way. I met this wonderful lady, Emily. She is the mother of 2 and is very passionate about being a part of a better future for our population of people with special needs. We got along great. She is very organized and efficient, and I am very scattered and have the attention of a goldfish. But we balance each other and get along great. Just as a side note (and I know she would hate me for saying this) I could not do any of this without her. She has encouraged me to keep moving forward with the dream of a café and told me she would work side by side with me the whole way through. She has been true to her word.
She and I worked together on the White Wilson Grant together. We decided to apply for money to offer classes and teach healthy eating and cooking. This included all the necessary cooking utensils and pots and pans as well as lesson plans to teach classes. We also included requests for a self-sustaining community garden.
The grant recipients will be announced this month. I will keep you posted on our progress. Thank you for sharing this wonderful, exciting time with all of us at Jobs4U.
Executive Director, Jobs4U, Inc.