A life-changing venture for those with disabilities

June 11, 2019 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Access Inc has announced the launch of our new WEEKLY Pop Up Café at Luigi’s in Melbourne’s South Caulfield…run and staffed by people with disabilities.

Luigi and his partner Irene have been so selfless and enthusiastic in their support of our new Café.  “Luigi’s is proud to partner with Access Inc on this project and we hope to inspire others in our community to celebrate ability and support employment opportunities for people with disabilities” states Luigi Matos, owner of Luigi’s Restaurant.

As some may know, Access has traditionally run a once a year Pop Up Café.  This year, thanks to our partners, we have the opportunity to expand this to a weekly Wednesday lunch service.

Another big change for our new Café is that it will be run out of an established restaurant – Luigi’s Restaurant & Pizzeria.

The Café provides the work experience component for some of the Access Inc Hospitality Programs.  All food is prepared by the Access Introduction to Commercial Cooking students, the coffees are made by students of the Access Barista Training Program and the Café is run by the Access Front of House students.

“The Pop Up Café provides a unique opportunity for the participants to run a café and in doing so showcase, particularly to the wider community, their abilities, in the hope that they can obtain a job” says Nitza Marom, Hospitality Program Manager.

Excited participants working in the Café are thrilled for the opportunity to practice their new skills and gain confidence and experience.

“I like dealing with customers and trying new things so I can get a job, maybe in a cafe,” says Meir, a participant.

For Jodi Block, Access Inc’s Participant and Life Learning Coordinator, “the Cafe has naturally created a more sustainable way to enhance participants’ hospitality skills and hopefully open doors to job-related opportunities in the community.”

The official launch of the Café was attended by the project sponsors and partners, representatives of the Jewish Disability Network and families of the participants involved in running the Café.

At the launch, Access Inc CEO Sharon Malecki thanked the project partners for investing in an employment pathway for people with disabilities.  She mentioned that this Café “is more than a great new Kosher vegetarian dining experience, it also has the potential to change people’s lives.  We hope that when members of the community, including local employers see participants in action, they will get a better understanding of the value of diversity in our community and in our workplaces.  Most of all, we hope this Café will provide an opportunity for participants to recognise their potential and become their own strongest advocates.”

The success of the Café will be reliant on the support of the community and we invite everyone to join us in celebrating this significant new initiative.

Mayor of the City of Glen Eira Cr Jamie Hyams is encouraging everyone to visit the Café saying “it’s a great way to support a great cause and help some enthusiastic young and very capable people with disabilities on their path to employment.”

The Pop Up Café is open for lunch every Wednesday 11am-2pm (except on Jewish and Public Holidays) at Luigi’s Restaurant (326 Hawthorn Rd, Caulfield South,) serving weekly salad and hot dish specials, sandwiches, brownies and hot drinks.

It is thanks to the Port Philip Community Group and their offer to partner with us in a Victorian Government Learn Local grant that we could even dream of a weekly Café.  We could also not have made this happen without the dedication of our volunteers and the additional sponsorship and support of the City of Glen Eira, Gandel Philanthropy, Charidy and of course Luigi’s Restaurant.

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