Each year, a significant number of students transition through and age out of the special education programs of the various school districts of Lane County. Many lack the focused skills that prepare them to transition successfully to a traditional work setting. When these students reach 21, with their choices for independence in front of them, they would benefit from a program that prepares them in career paths designed to support their unique needs. In most cases, with an additional year or two of individualized supports by professionals, these young adults would have the opportunity to focus on skill development, as well as build their confidence in those enhanced skills.
Reality Kitchen Nonprofit is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization running a job skills training program supporting young adults who experience intellectual and developmental disabilities. We offer employment experiences paying a competitive wage operating a wholesale bakery and retail cafe.
Our Supported Staff and other participants are young adults who experience intellectual and developmental disabilities and come to learn skills that will help them achieve their goals of personal fulfillment, self-confidence and economic independence. They and are drawn from the greater community and range between 16 to 25 years of age. Most have asked to expand their knowledge and experiences learning to use technology in diverse ways. They understand that technology can give them the means to express themselves creatively and give them options that are not limited by their disabilities as well as expand their personal and professional goals.
Currently, in our wholesale bakery/retail cafe, they are learning barista skills, pouring coffee drinks for customers, mixing, scaling, shaping and baking breads and pastries; preparing and serving soups, salads, sandwiches and other daily specials. They are packing and delivering our product to the community’s most well-known and professional kitchens while gaining the back door into the area’s best food service businesses where they will seek future employment opportunities.
This unique training approach is reconnecting our Supported Staff and volunteers to their own potential building self-confidence, socialization skills and the ethic and emotional readiness that prepares them to join the area’s workforce. They are gaining the experiences needed to get and keep employment once they are ready.
We provide all individuals we serve with attention individualized to their unique skills and interests through job skills development and training, as well as alternatives to work activities designed to engage them imaginatively and creatively. For this reason, we remain committed to do more than dream of what “might be” and focus daily on making what “should be” their reality.