A company dedicated to providing work experience opportunities for teens and adults with special needs held a grand opening on May 16 at the Sea Shell Resort and Beach Club in Beach Haven.
The non-profit Compassion Café debuted last summer at Barry’s Do Me a Flavor in the borough. When it was created, the plan was to host the cafe in a different location each year.
“The success of our first season is a testament to the incredible community support for this mission, and we are so grateful to partner to provide meaningful, gainful employment for people with special needs,” said Sue Sharkey, who has founded the cafe with his niece Erin. Sharkey. “Our menu includes great coffee, light fare including bagels, muffins, cakes and quiches, as well as items made by our employees for our dog bakery.”
The cafe is now open from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Monday through Thursday until September 15. Sharkey said employees learn skills such as cooking, food preparation, cleaning and cash management at the checkout. She said the Sea Shell site would provide more space for interaction between employees and customers, while offering panoramic ocean views.
At the grand opening, Mayor Colleen Lambert said that when the concept for the cafe was developed early last year, the Baxter family, owners of Barry’s, “went into action immediately”.
“But the pattern was to always move around, so when it came to this year, it was where do we go next,” Lambert said. “But they didn’t have to wonder for long. The Hughes family (owners of Sea Shell) stepped in and said, “You can come here. As Mayor of Beach Haven, I’m so proud that we have these wonderful civic-minded businesses that directly step in and offer support and are the kind of business that Beach Haven can be proud of.
Sharkey said Compassion Café had 67 employees, including 24 new hires.
“Our success story is a direct result of the hearts of an entire community, ordinary people like you and me,” she said. “LBI and Beach Haven already have great beaches, great restaurants, resorts, recreation, theater, museums, and great people. This is why we have so many visitors and why we are so proud of our city. In a short season, Beach Haven has become a national example of the concept of opportunity for all.
For more information on coffee, visit compassioncafélbi.org as well as Facebook and Instagram. —EE