The Ottawa County Community Foundation has announced it is spotlighting Engaging Opportunities Foundation and Christy’s Corner Cafe in Elmore, last last year’s OCCF Grant sponsors, as it begins its 2021 Community Grants cycle.
OCCF Grants from unrestricted funds support a variety of programs and services throughout Ottawa County, focusing on making the maximum positive effort for the community. Applications for 2021 grants will be open until March 15.
Kathy Barbee founded Engaging Opportunities Foundation (EOF) in 2018 in memory of her sister Christine “Christy” Bosch. Christy was born in 1976 with Down syndrome and lived vigorously and enthusiastically for 35 years, never letting her disability get in the way. Watching Christy grow and thrive inspired Kathy to want to serve more people with developmental disabilities. EOF’s flagship endeavor is Christy’s Corner Café in Elmore, which opened in September 2019 to provide specialized job coaching and skills training for people with developmental disabilities.
Christy’s Corner Cafe is open daily from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and closed on Tuesday. In the inviting café, people who have special needs work side-by-side with employee mentors and job coaches to learn employability and social skills. The inclusive setting, where community members engage with students and adults with disabilities, is intentionally designed to promote a culture of integration and acceptance.
Though the Café is EOF’s first job training endeavor, it is just the beginning. Kathy and her board are exploring new partnerships and programs to expand employment options that better engage clients and align with the region’s workforce needs.
OCCF has awarded EOF community grants totaling $4,650 for renovations and electrical upgrades to Christy’s Corner Cafe, and also provided Burton D. Morgan Scholarship funds to support Kathy Barbee’s training toward completion of a two-year nonprofit management program.
Christy’s Corner weathered the 2020 closings and restrictions resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, implementing protocols and practices to keep customers and employees safe. Thanks to support from the community, friends, and funders such as OCCF, the doors remain open, the coffee is on, and people are receiving much-needed job training and employability services at Christy’s Corner Cafe.
More information about OCCF community grants, including a link to the new online application, is on the OCCF website ottawaccf.org.