“Hope begins with a meal” is the Phoenix Rescue Mission’s slogan for those in rehabilitation and recovery. At first, the motivational phrase referred to Phoenix Rescue Mission’s soup kitchens, but now, with the opening of the Mission Possible Café, it takes on a whole new meaning.
Instead of only doling out meals to those in need, the Rescue Mission is providing something, though less urgent, perhaps more useful over time: the opportunity to work in a brand-new restaurant and provide meals for hungry customers.
“The homeless demographic [is] changing... our homeless population was getting younger and they were unskilled workers,” says Nicole Pena the director of marketing and public relations for The Phoenix Rescue Mission.
As a part of the mission’s recovery objective, future employees are a part of a “transformations” program that seeks to integrate people back into the workforce. The first 30 days of the program are spent working on the “foundations” of recovery and beginning a 12 step program. Then, after six months participants can choose either a workforce training track, or to enroll in a GED program or college courses. If they choose the kitchen management track, they’ll receive eight months of training: four months in a classroom and four months at the restaurant.
The Mission Possible Cafe is located at 15th Avenue just north of Van Buren Street in what used to be the Oaxaca Restaurante y Cantina. As a way of honoring the history of the building, the restaurant will serve Mexican-fusion style food with street tacos, enchiladas, burritos, etc. with a heathy twist. For example, the restaurant will serve quinoa instead of rice and feature a variety of green chile-inspired dishes.
Pena describes the atmosphere inside the restaurant as bright and welcoming. There’s a large mural on the wall and photos of the program’s graduates and their children. Pena says it’s a place she hopes will inspire change and help prove people can turn their lives around.
The Mission Possible Cafe will have a soft opening from October 2-13 and will be asking their first group of customers to rate their food and overall experience.
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