In our pursuit to affirm the dignity of every human person, Catholic Charities is proud to partner with advocates of those living with intellectual and developmental disabilities to open Germaine’s Café, a food service enterprise that is rethinking what it means to bring meaningful employment to this historically marginalized group.
Germaine’s Café is a social justice crusade disguised as a coffee shop, and it will live right here at Catholic Charities’ Clark Family Center. Serving up more than just coffee, the café will increase access to dignified employment and the benefits that come with it: skill development, a stable income, and opportunities for leadership and growth.
At a time when people with disabilities experience poverty at more than twice the rate of those without disabilities, the idea of a “Germaine’s Café” is as topical as it is innovative. Not only will the restaurant offer jobs, it will offer dignity and room to grow. It is our intention that the café’s employees will play an active role in the leadership of the program.
Though small scale, we hope Germaine’s Cafe will serve as a crucial first step toward reducing the disabled community’s disproportionately high unemployment rate, poverty rate, and professional skills gap, all of which have been reported time and time again in labor statistics and advocacy campaigns.
At opening, Germaine’s Café will offer a limited menu of sandwiches and coffee beverages, in addition to a variety of grab-and-go food and drink. Eventually, the café will expand to be a full-service restaurant with in- and outdoor seating for patrons.
Saint Germaine Cousin, namesake of this new initiative, is the patron saint of all those who have been abandoned or abused because of their disabilities. Germaine, who suffered from a myriad of physical and developmental impairments, recognized God in her own suffering and invited us to do the same. Eventually, it was her grace in spite of her suffering that led her to be recognized as venerable…and eventually as a saint. Germaine’s Café is inspired by her resilience, and we hope this initiative empowers others to recognize their own strength.
We are scheduled to break ground on Germaine’s Café in mid-January with the remodeling of the main-floor dining space. To do this, Catholic Charities appeals to the generosity of those of you who wish to see people with disabilities access more dignified employment opportunities within our community.