“Compassion Café” is a new nonprofit in Beach Haven whick will be making waves this spring and summer, offering jobs for adults with special needs and disabilities.
The idea for Compassion Café began when the founders Erin Starkey and her aunt Sue Sharkey realized that there weren’t many opportunities or jobs for adults with special needs. Erin explains, “I have worked with autistic kids for about 12 years now. Over the years I developed a vocational skills training program because what we see all the time is that there’s tons of opportunities while kids are in school, but then once they graduate and they turn 21 there’s nothing.
Compassion Café’s mission is to employ local adults with special needs by providing a work environment catered to training and support, so each individual is able to develop appropriate vocational skills in a natural work setting. “We created a model where local restaurants who aren’t open for breakfast donate their space to us so that we can function out of a pre-existing restaurant.
“Barry and Nicole Baxter from Barry’s Do Me A Flavor in Beach Haven were gracious enough to be the inaugural host,” Erin says. “I worked for them years ago; all my cousins have worked for them or still do. They’re just phenomenal people so for them to partner alongside us to be able to give back to the community in this way is really special.”
The café will be open Monday through Thursday from 7 to 11 a.m. There will be self-service coffee, baked goods, bagels and quiche. They will also have a dog bakery with dog treats.
“Terrance Methodist Church in Beach Haven donated their space of their commercial kitchen for us to use one or two afternoons a week to do the prep work and to bake the dog treats. So, in addition to being open Monday through Thursday, we’ll also have some employees work one or two days a week to prep everything,” Erin said.
A soft opening for Compassion Café will be held on May 10 at Barry’s Do Me A Flavor located at 309 Centre St. in Beach Haven. Erin stated how they’re still in the process of scheduling their grand opening, but at the moment they have it potentially scheduled for May 17.