Cafe workers at Dorothy's Can-Do Cafe
Gateway to Learning has been working with adults and children with special needs for nearly 40 years, helping them learn fundamental life skills through a variety of programs, including working in a professional kitchen. Starting April 15, participants will start serving the public at Dorothy's Can-Do Cafe in Lincoln Square.
Named for GTL founder Dorothy Hough, the cafe is fueled by a 24-month day-training program run by members of GTL.
The members will "greet customers, fill bakery orders and manage the cash register," according to a GTL newsletter. Those bakery orders will include pastries, cookies, brownies, and some specialty chocolate items. Wilson said the goals vary for each of the program's members, with some learning more fundamental life skills than others, said marketing and development specialist Kathleen Wilson.
"There are many different types [of clients]. A lot of the individuals in the program will never live on their own," Wilson said. "Our goal with most of the clients is achieve their own individual goals based on what they're capable of, helping them reach their full potential. Some are working toward jobs, and some are just trying to learn very basic life skills."
Dorothy's Can-Do Cafe is the first GTL program to open itself to public interaction. "There's a big social element," Wilson said. "[Whether] or not they're used to being around people, how they tend to act around people, not being inappropriate in that setting."
UPDATE: The Cafe will not open until May now as it waits on zoning permits to add a front door.
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