Walking into Dave & Maggie’s Café, David & Margaret's on-campus café and workforce training center, you are greeted with the scent of freshly baked cookies, hot coffee, and one of the world’s most infectious smiles. Michael, a COMPASS Programs participant, has been working in the café for the past three months while adjusting to his new life in La Verne.
When Michael came to COMPASS, he was in search of stability. In the past year, like too many young adults aging out of foster care, Michael had moved five times, was forced to drop out of college classes, and left his family and community behind due to circumstances outside of his control.
Right from the start, COMPASS Programs was different for Michael. Reflecting on his experience, he said the energy at COMPASS was unlike any program he had been in before; it felt comfortable like he was part of a friend group that he could rely on for support.
Once settled into his new apartment, Michael got connected with the COMPASS Training Program (CTP) which assists young adults in education and employment. Having some experience working in retail, Michael and the Education and Employment Specialist decided that Dave & Maggie’s Café would be a good fit for him.
During the two-week training period, Michael worked closely with the café manager, Brian, and the rest of the staff to learn the menu items and get familiar with his new role. Along with regular check-ins with the Education and Employment Specialist, Michael said the support he received in the beginning made adjusting to the program and a new city so much easier.
It wasn’t long before Michael felt he was a part of the team, suggesting new menu items and brainstorming ways improve the café. His confidence was growing – something he attributes to the nurturing environment at COMPASS. He explained that this was the first job where he felt respected as an equal, where his voice could be heard, and people were willing to invest in him. When he suggested to Brian that they should add matcha to the menu, the ingredients and equipment were there the next day!
While CTP internships typically last three months, Michael’s positive attitude and willingness to learn have been such an asset to the café that his hours were extended for a few more weeks. He has continued to work with the Education and Employment Specialist on fine-tuning his resumé and searching for a new position where he can utilize his talents. His ultimate goal is to return to college for a degree in photography, so he can share his love of nature and landscapes with the world.
Michael has learned a lot during his time in the COMPASS Training Program, but his biggest takeaway has been his increased confidence and self-esteem. After a tumultuous year moving from place to place, Michael is hoping to stay put for a while with his newfound community at COMPASS Programs.