Karma Café helping people get back on their feet

By Josh Hall (Twitter: @Vancan19)
September 14, 2018 - 4:35pm Updated: September 24, 2018 - 8:49am

There is a brand new coffee spot in Red Deer and while it does offer a variety of yummy drink and lunch options, it’s also helping the people behind the counter get back on their feet.

The Karma Café, which has been open for about five months, held its grand opening on Friday.

It is operated by Rise, a company under the COSMOS umbrella, and acts as a training ground for employees to learn the ins and outs of how restaurants function and ultimately get back into the workforce.

Prior to working in the Karma Café for about two months, participants spend another eight weeks or so learning about food safety, WHMIS and other aspects of working in a restaurant. There’s also a focus on career planning, communication and teamwork skills, conflict resolution and interview skills.

“We really found that the food service industry is quite fluid and allows for people to develop skills, but also maximize the skills they have and be able to use those for meaningful work,” says Serena King, acting executive director at COSMOS.

“The reason Rise was created was to be able to be a company that fills a gap for services. We wanted to ensure that we are able to sustain and provide meaningful opportunities for people to find employment.”

The program’s first cohort had 10 students and wrapped up at the end of August. Five of those have already gained new employment since graduating, according to King. The current group has six participants.

“Right now with the economy, it’s really hard to get a job,” says Karma Café employee and program participant Lisa Schulze. “It’s hard to even put your foot in the door. I’m really grateful because we’re learning and you’re able to try and put your foot into a job where they’ll want to hire you.”

At the end of the day, King says what one does for a job or career can impact self-esteem or even our capacity to pay the bills, therefore learning the right skills is vital.

“Any time we have an agency or a group that can offer a service that is going to help people help themselves is an asset to our community.”

The entire program is subsidized by various community partners.

The Karma Café is located at 7428-49 Avenue.

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