The Gift of Experience
written by Susan Griffis, Associate Vice President of Marketing, Shepherds College
Russian nesting dolls are fascinating gifts. The main doll is beautifully carved and painted and, in itself, is a wonderful surprise. But then you open the doll to find another, similar to the first in its beauty, but with intricate and important differences. As you open the doll you’ll continue to find another… and another… and another… each unique and each an essential part of the whole gift.
In 2018, Community State Bank gave Shepherds College a gift much like this. They gave the school a café for the Culinary Arts students to run - Shepherds Community Café.
One of the first things people do after receiving a Russian nesting doll is to remove each doll, put the halves back together, and line them up next to each other to examine the gift in its entirety. After receiving the gift of Shepherds Community Cafe, the staff at Shepherds College did the same. The second gift was easily revealed:
The Gift of Experience
Shepherds Community Café is staffed by the second- and third-year students and alumni of Shepherds College. These baristas all have intellectual or developmental disabilities so they are supervised by a café manager, one who is experienced in the disability field.
Running the café and serving the customers gives these students valuable, real-life business experience. As they grow in knowledge, the students are gaining confidence in their skills and in their personal interactions.
The students each learn specialized skills in their Culinary Arts program at Shepherds College. They also learn soft skills, such as professional behaviors, dressing for success and conflict resolution. These soft skills are tested and enhanced through working as baristas at the café.
Later this year, the café will offer baked goods made by the Culinary Arts students. The students will be baking cookies, muffins, bars and other delicious treats in the newly licensed production kitchen at Shepherds College. Producing these baked goods to sell in the café will add another level of experience toward their careers in Culinary Arts.
Thanks to the gift of Shepherds Community Café, the Shepherds College Culinary Arts students are building impressive resumes to assist them on the path toward fulfilling their dreams of independence.
Read about the other generous gifts in upcoming blogs.