Social Enterprise Spotlight: Helpings Cafe
Arizona is home to a wide range of social enterprises, which are businesses that have a primary goal to solve an issue in the community rather than strictly to accrue profit. One of our favorites is Helpings Café, a Phoenix spot that serves coffee, pastries, sandwiches, and many other delicious products with the profits going to help homeless families. Helpings Café is a fundraising branch of UMOM, a soup kitchen turned family shelter that provides emergency and temporary housing while giving families the resources they need to rise above tough situations and break the cycle of homelessness. The Café not only serves up delicious foods, they provide job training programs for residents including a six-week barista program and a nine-week kitchen program, with a new eight-week paid internship program for graduates of the other two programs. The barista program involves learning to take orders, learning to prepare a variety of drinks, and serving food to the tables. The kitchen program involves meal-prep and catering training, and attendees are able to get their food handlers card upon graduation.
Beyond having to memorize all of the different food and drink recipes, attendees learn valuable communication and people skills. Victims of homelessness often deal with low self-confidence. Gina Dazzo, the General Manager of the Café, has witnessed people come into the training as shy and reserved, only to transform into personable, friendly, and capable members of the workforce. After going through the training programs, most attendees receive outside employment, but graduates frequently come back to visit and thank the organization for helping them turn their life around. Not only are the graduates getting employed, but they also have a high job retention rate. Many consider Helpings Café and UMOM as a major contributor to the betterment of their life.
There are many ways to get help out this great organization. Buy your breakfast at the café, bring your co-workers with you, and help spread the word about the great things they’re doing. Volunteers are also needed for everything from reading to the children to helping to sort donated clothes. You can also help through monetary donations or donations of products or clothing.