Tag Archives: Soul Cafe

Oakland celebrity chefs compete to help children with special needs

Chef Derik Watson has a warm place in his heart — and his stove — for the Friendship Circle. That’s why he, amid a trio of Oakland County culinary professionals, will share his culinary skills to help children with special needs in a Celebrity Chef event.Three local chefs will cook up something special at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 19, at the Farber Soul Center and Soul Café in West Bloomfield Township. Proceeds will benefit Friendship Circle of Michigan, an organization that provides programs and services to individuals with special needs and their families.

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West Bloomfield cafe and art studio employs residents with special needs

Soul Café, which recently opened in West Bloomfield, is partially staffed by skilled, highly-trained adults with special needs. Adjacent to the restaurant is Dresner Soul Studio, where emerging artists with special needs display and sell their artwork — pottery, weaving, photography, painting, woodworking, silkscreening and more.

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Soul Satisfaction: Michigan Friendship Circle Opens Arts Studio and Cafe

At the Farber Soul Center, there is no shortage of “A-ha!” moments. For Noah Sriro, 24, who works in the Soul Cafe, it’s the joy of his very first tip—tangible recognition for a job well done. For facilitating staff artist Carolyn Morris, it’s the joy that comes when a fledgling artist discovers he can weave a scarf in a pattern of his own design. For volunteer artist Lori Champagne, it’s the joy of introducing an artist to a new technique and watching the creativity flow. And for parents of young adults with special needs, it’s having a place where their sons and daughters can go to learn new skills and take pride in their accomplishments.

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Soul Café offers job training to adults with special needs

A new café and art studio opened in West Bloomfield and is offering priceless opportunities to adults with special needs. Most of the employees at the café have special needs and were once part of the Farber Center’s Friendship Circle program as children. The Soul Café is a restaurant open for breakfast and lunch connected in the Farber Center offering valuable on the job training in kitchen and serving skills. “Providing job training for these amazing young people is critical,” executive director Bassie Shemtov said. “We will train them so they can go work in the private sector.”

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soul cafe training

Friendship Circle’s Farber Friendship Center Offers Employment to Individuals with Special Needs

As we get closer to the official opening of the Farber Friendship Center, Friendship Circle was able to begin putting our plan in place for one of the unique offerings of the new facility: employment for individuals with special needs.

For the shifts that will run the new Soul Cafe, the aim was for 40% of the staff positions to be filled with persons with special needs. During the week of March 7, Friendship Circle began handing out job offers to individuals that interviewed for the positions and were chosen to work at the Soul Café.

As we handed out offer letters to current staff members at Milk & Honey Kosher Catering, the organization that will run the day-to-day operations at Soul Cafe, the excitement was infectious.

The persons that received offer letters were filled with excitement at the opportunity to gain employment and continue to be involved with Friendship Circle and the Farber Friendship Center.

Watch Ben learn that he is one of the first employees of Friendship Circle’s Soul Cafe. The Soul Café will provide a mouthwatering kosher menu featuring gourmet soups, salads and sandwiches in a warm and relaxed environment. The café will teach adults with #specialneeds the skills of food prep, cooking, hosting and serving. In addition, the Soul Café will provide life skills opportunities for the 2,500 students from across Metro Detroit who participate annually in Friendship Circle’s Lessons For Life program. http://friendshipcircle.org/soul

Posted by Friendship Circle of Michigan on Tuesday, March 15, 2016

In their positions of employment, adults with special needs will learn the necessary skills to host, serve, prepare and cook food, interact with customers, take meal orders and all other elements of the food service industry.

The Soul Café will provide a mouthwatering kosher menu featuring gourmet soups, salads and sandwiches in a warm and relaxed environment. The café will teach adults with ‪‎special needs‬ the skills of food prep, cooking, hosting and serving.

In addition, the Soul Café will provide life skills opportunities for the 2,500 students from across Metro Detroit who participate annually in Friendship Circle’s Lessons For Life program.

“The Soul Cafe Work Training program is a great way for individuals of all abilities to have the confidence and tools to hold a job while feeling a purpose to succeed far beyond their own expectations. With the SCWT program, all employees at the Soul Cafe have the opportunity to work in an environment that highlights inclusion while being able to focus on strengths and not hide their disabilities. It’s an environment that accepts an employee for who he is while helping form the individual’s strengths in the workplace and assisting the person to get to the next level and find a job in the typical world gain confidence and skills while benefitting from inclusion with real world purposes.” – Farber Friendship Center’s Program Director Jordan Shifman

Throughout the training, candidates will learn about proper restaurant etiquette and techniques, customer service and food prep, punctuality, scheduling, dress codes, rules of conduct, performance reviews and much more.

Employees will also receive training from vendors like Starbucks that will come in and train baristas to work behind the counter!

Training in progress at the Soul Cafe! Watch Sam master the Starbucks Coffee machine in the video below. Getting hungry? The Soul Cafe will be open for business very, very soon! Like the Soul Cafe on Facebook to get the latest updates. https://www.facebook.com/FCSoulCafe/

Posted by Friendship Circle of Michigan on Sunday, March 27, 2016

Soul Center Friendship Circle

The History of Farber Soul Center’s Creation and Inspiration

“People with special needs can really teach us life lessons that we cannot get from professors; they are people who are capable of doing things the same as typical, productive people of society and what they have to offer can be truly inspiring and amazing.” – Bassie Shemtov, Director

Since its founding in 1994, Friendship Circle has expanded the concept of matching teenagers with volunteers in what has become a hallmark volunteer program that has spread to 88 cities around the world.

In 2005, to address the demand from the volunteer initiative for programs that included individuals with special needs, we built the state-of-the-art Ferber Kaufman LifeTown facility on the Meer Family Friendship Center campus, through which we innovated programs that ended up serving thousands of people.

(Note: Ferber Kaufman LifeTown refers to donors Ron Ferber and Alon Kaufman and Farber Soul Center refers to donors William and Audrey Farber of the Farber Foundation.)

This was the basis of the dream that began in 2012 to create a place where adults with special needs could call their own. A place where they could learn vocational skills through traditional, digital and the culinary arts as well as earn an income once they have mastered their craft. And also, a place where individuals with special needs that had aged out of the current Friendship Circle programs could still find inclusion and community among peers.

We have been asked many questions about how the Farber Soul Center came about and what the future holds. For this reason, we would like to provide you with a multi-part series on the past, present, and future of the Farber Soul Center.

A New Special Need

As the years went by, Friendship Circle came to the realization that our population – an entire generation of children with special needs – had entered adulthood and along with this came an overwhelming need to address the extreme isolation they faced after finishing school and the lack of job opportunities.

Former children who had participated in Friendship Circle programming since the age of five were left without a place of inclusion after aging out of the programs that Friendship Circle offered, being forced to stay at home because there was a gap in offerings to meet their needs.

In 2012, the Friendship Circle directors started making plans for the future of young adults with special needs.

March 2012: Planning for the Future

village-renders

Renderings of the proposed upgrade to Weinberg Village that would include a restaurant.

The Friendship Circle directors were discussing the idea to build a restaurant and commissioned plans, with the intention of re-purposing the old multi-purpose room at Ferber Kaufman LifeTown (which had been freed up after the construction of the new Elkus gym in 2010) for the purpose of offering vocational training for individuals with special needs.

william and audrey farber

Pictured: William and Audrey Farber, the generous donors and namesake of the Farber Soul Center.

May 2013: Finding a Location

Friendship Circle began searching the area surrounding its location to find vacant spaces for the restaurant idea. A phone call from a supporter suggested they take a look at the Drake Summit strip mall at Walnut Lake and Drake roads in West Bloomfield Township, Michigan. The building was placed under contract and the renovation plans began.

At this point, Friendship Circle was encouraged by the Farber Foundation to further develop the idea into something that could span more skill areas. They realized the need to have a bigger separate facility that could teach vocational skills and eventually provide jobs.

The future home of the Farber Soul Center at the time of purchase.

The future home of the Farber Soul Center at the time of purchase.

 

January-April 2014: Surveying the Field

Friendship Circle Director Bassie Shemtov started visiting several art studio locations across the country (partially inspired by discovering this New York Times article on the Creative Growth Art Center) where similar existing projects were successfully operating. These trips provided inspiration and helped gain an understanding of how Friendship Circle could best structure the Farber Soul Center.

During these visits, Bassie was able to see the possibilities available through hands-on training provided in a variety of artistic mediums, artistic development, gallery exhibition and representation, a social atmosphere among peers and the creation of meaningful lives and careers in art.


Some of the different art studios that will be housed in the Dresner Soul Studio and Farber Soul Center.

March 2014: Fundraising Drive Gets Underway

In the spring of 2014, Friendship Circle began a campaign that would turn the Farber Soul Center from a dream into reality.

The William and Audrey Farber Foundation generously allowed Friendship Circle to further develop the dream by being a partner in an ongoing matching campaign to raise funds for the project helping Friendship Circle begin proceedings to purchase the building, as well as develop plans to renovate and furnish the new facility.

Additionally, through a generous grant from the Dresner Foundation, we were able to include the studio and art elements to the Farber Soul Center. We shared with the Dresner Foundation this idea to buy this building to create an art program and they provided the funding the general project, in memory of Vera and Joseph Dresner.

This also gave Friendship Circle enough funds to get us within reach of making this project a reality and we went forward to develop plans and set forth the purchase of the building in December 2014.

Friendship Circle then announced to the public that it would be building the Farber Soul Center. The Farber Soul Center would include a cafe which would employ individuals with special needs, art studios that would enable artists to harness their creativity, a community hall for special events and a gallery where thee works of art can be displayed and sold.

November 2014: Art & Soul

In November a special evening “shower” was held called “Art & Soul,” where women were given the opportunity to envision what this facility could accomplish in its mission.

This shower took place in the location of the new Soul Center before construction began, and guests could get a vision of the space that would be utilized while also hosting a small fundraising event to entice excitement in the new location.

Over 450 women showed up to this exciting event.

The walls of the main banquet hall in the facility were decorated with 100 white frames of all sizes and each frame contained a blank sheet of paper and included an object name attached to it (such as a kiln, paintbrushes, laser cutter, paints) with a small colorful donation price tag at the bottom.

Stay Tuned for Part II

Part two of this series on the Farber Soul Center will focus on the the ongoing construction in the Farber Soul Center and the future of the planned programs and facilities. Stay tuned!

Digitas Gets Creative At Friendship Circle

Digitas Gets Creative At Friendship Circle

Volunteerism is what makes the Friendship Circle go round. When Digitas, a global marketing and technology agency, chose to devote their employee volunteer day to our cause, we were thrilled. On June 5th, we welcomed 40 Digitas employees to Friendship Circle and with them came enthusiasm, excitement, and a desire to assist our mission in a very special way.

Digitas Volunteer Day

A group shot of Digitas Staff excited about getting their hands dirty.

With the completion of the Farber Soul Center on track for later this year, Friendship Circle customized a unique volunteer experience for this group of creative minds.

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Friendship Circle volunteer Bonnie Laker Winkler shares how much the experience of giving back means to her.

One of numerous impressive aspects of the Soul Center is the Soul Cafe. The Cafe will have a clean, industrial look to it and a dining area made up of 10 cafe tables. What better way for Digitas to leave their artistic mark than through developing and executing 10 modern designs for our table tops, painted alongside our Soul Center artists!

Soul Center   Friendship Circle

A Rendering of the Farber Soul Center which will be open in the Spring of 2016.

The day began with a tour of Lifetown- the afterschool program rooms, gymnasium, and Weinberg Village. Volunteers had an idea of what they were stepping into that day, but like many things in life, you can only describe the wonder of Friendship Circle so well. To see it is to believe it.

Digitas Volunteer Day

Bassie Shemtov leads a tour through Lifetown. Here she walks Digitas employees through the art room.

After the tour, Digitas volunteers joined our Soul Center artists and staff in our multipurpose room for the Cafe art project. With the help of stencils created on our very own laser cutter, the volunteers and artists combined their talents to bring the table top designs to life.

Digitas Volunteer Day

Soul Center artist Casandra Thompson and Soul Center Operations Director Jordan Shifman design the layout for a Cafe table with Digitas volunteers.

Digitas Volunteer Day

Soul Center artist Sam Morris paints a table top alongside Digitas volunteers.

The end result was a collection of images that exceeded all expectations. Once the tops are coated and the bases are attached, the tables will serve as a fond memory of artistic collaboration. A beautiful first impression on the Farber Soul Center.

Digitas Volunteer Day

Digitas volunteers display their beautiful work!

The Friendship Circle thanks Digitas for their efforts, skills, and vision. We can’t wait to see the tables displayed in the finished facility.

Friendship Circle Opening Cafe and Art Studio for Vocational Opportunities

Since 1994 Friendship Circle has been dedicated to providing exciting new programs to children with special needs and their families. However, those amazing children that joined us in 1994 are now amazing young adults. In order to continue to give them the encouragement and support that they need, we need to continue to adapt and advance our programming.

A New Adventure: The Farber Soul Center

Soul Center RenderingAfter acquiring a portion of a shopping center located at Drake Rd., just south of Walnut Lake Rd in West Bloomfield, Friendship Circle will soon begin to construct and operate a Cafe and Art Studio.  The Farber Soul Center, as it will be named, from a generous $2.1 million donation from the William and Audrey Farber Family Foundation, will be a facility where Friendship Circle will extend programming into the lives of adults with special needs through culinary, digital and traditional arts, thus getting the much needed on-the-job training.  We are continuing to raise an additional half million dollars which is necessary to proceed.

About the Soul Cafe

lighter-look4Soul Cafe will be a gathering place, with a state of the art kosher restaurant.  The unique menu will be unparalleled in the area and most importantly will be created and served by their staff of both, typically-able, and those who have special needs, as they work together as a team.  These young adults with special needs will receive on the job training in kitchen and serving skills. The café also gives the existing Lessons for Life program, currently utilized by over 200 schools around the metro Detroit area, the opportunity to expand their lessons for students with special needs into dining etiquette, utilizing the café’s real-world setting.

About the Soul Studio

inside1Soul Studio will be a professional art studio that encourages these adults with special needs to find their passion and explore the many different artistic media that will be available to them. Friendship Circle will submit the artists’ work to be shown in galleries, entered in contests and sold to commercial and residential customers.

Cutting edge digital technologies such as photography, video, 3-D printing and animation will be available to help them express themselves.  These artists, with the help of state of the art computers, will have the opportunity to sell tangible productions of their digital designs. Of course, no art studio would be complete without artists being able to learn and create paintings, ceramic, weaving, jewelry, printmaking and folk art.

inside2Art Gallery

Also located inside the Farber Soul Center will be the Soul Gallery, which will proudly exhibit the works of the artist.  The gallery will be open daily to the public for viewing and purchasing.

A Message from the Farber Family

Nanci Farber, daughter in law, said, “The Friendship Circle is an entity which is unparalleled in our community.   It is with great joy and a deep warmth and appreciation to The Friendship Circle that the Farber family decided to facilitate the creation and running of the Farber Soul Center.  We however, are only a piece. It takes so many to build such an incredible space. We are indebted to everyone involved and truly grateful to be able to be a part of this amazing journey. The added bonus of this new facility is that it allows Friendship Circle another benefit to their families with children who have special needs that currently are enrolled in their existing programming.  In the evenings, once the Farber Soul Center closes, these children with special needs and their teen volunteers will be able to delve into the arts and find their passions.”