BY SHERI TRUSTY
Thanks to the Engaging Opportunities Foundation, Riley Chesson-Brossia is working at his very first job at Christy’s Corner Cafe. He greets customers, takes their orders, works occasionally in the kitchen, and learns skills that help him to gain confidence and independence.
“It’s a very nice place to work,” Chesson-Brossia said. “I get to see what happens behind the scenes at a restaurant. The best part is meeting people.”
The Engaging Opportunities Foundation, the parent foundation for the Christy’s Corner Café, is hosting a matching campaign for the café, which offers employment opportunities and job skills training for individuals with disabilities. The campaign will help sustain the café and its mission to empower people with the resources to gain independence. This year, Christy’s provided over 1,300 hours of paid employment for employees with disabilities.
Operating the café is costly. Most of its employees work with job coaches, meaning the payroll is double that of a traditional coffee shop. In addition, Engaging Opportunities Foundation strives to provide opportunities for its employees outside of work hours.
It recently rebooted monthly inclusion events that were paused over COVID concerns, and the foundation connects employees with educational opportunities that will help them reach their career goals.
“We recently had a canvas painting class, and we’re going to have a knitting class,” said Engaging Opportunities Foundation founder and board member, Kathy Barbee. “One of our employees took a health department certification class with his job coach. We’re looking to see if there are other opportunities for employees to take online courses with their job coaches.” The matching campaign will help Christy’s sustain its work and expand opportunities for its employees in the future. Every donation will be matched up to $10,000, helping Christy’s meet its goal of $20,000.
Donations can be sent to 368 Rice St., Elmore, Ohio 43416, and online donations can be made at www.christyscornercafe.com. Each dollar donated will help an individual with disabilities take another step on the road toward independence.
“We help our employees discover what they want out of life and how to get there,” Barbee said.