Monica’s Cafe in Silverdale, Washington has a diverse team keeping the busy flow of customers’ content. If you come in on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, Rachel may greet you with open arms and a large smile, easing you into the long line. Monica’s Cafe used Trillium’s services to recruit the niche position for her cafe —Trillium is a nonprofit serving Kitsap, Pierce, King and Clark county businesses who want to hire people with developmental disabilities.
Owner Monica Downen says, “We value hospitality, team work, and fun, as does Rachel, and with the support Trillium offers, it affirmed our goals to live a rich life and certainly personified our purpose.” Monica believes having a diverse team is helping to teach other staff how natural it is to work and personally interact with people who are differently-abled.
Monica was hesitant at first to hire someone for a position that didn’t already exist within her business. “My main concern was the money. We have a small business where the staff team needs to remain flexible and be able to perform multiple tasks, respond to customers and co-workers, and maintain a fast pace through much of the shift.” Monica felt that to hire, she would have to see them successfully perform tasks that she identified as being valuable to her business. Trillium Employment Consultant, Renee Lane, helped the businesses identify the tasks and then selected a candidate, Rachel, she thought would be a good fit. In order to optimize the experience for both Rachel and the cafe, Renee took video footage of other employees completing the tasks that would be part of the internship. Rachel and Renee watched those videos together before Rachel’s first day at her internship which prepared Rachel and reduced the training time from the business.
The internship was a success and since Feb 2017, Rachel has been responsible for stamping bakery bags, putting stickers on cups, prepping to-go boxes and washing dishes. Monica saw that having Rachel on her team is valuable to the business and the community. “Our customers come to us for an experience, and those who encounter Rachel generally felt that she is a wonderful part of the experience. She is exuberant and boisterous, generous and welcoming, and really good at hospitality,” says Monica. Monica’s Cafe experiences how the broader community embraces Rachel and how having her a part of the team is, “spreading goodwill for us within the community,” shares Monica. Recently, Monica’s Cafe was awarded “Business of the Year” by the Silverdale Chamber of Commerce with recognition for the civic engagement her company represents. A fun tradition at Monica’s is that employees get a day named after them, so that each staff is celebrated. “Rachel’s Day” was in February; on her 1-year work anniversary her co-workers came together to make this a celebration of the all the wonderful contributions Rachel brings to the business.
When asked what made Monica shift from hesitant to hiring, she says, “I would inspire you to keep a more open mind and heart – keep open and immediate communication with Trillium and their Employment Consultants. If issues arise, confront them right away rather than letting them fester, and be ready to find creative solutions that you may not have considered before. In this way you will get the performance you need, meet your goals, and most likely open opportunities for other employees.”