Café Momentum, the project that works with Youth Village Resources to provide practical skills and success values to young men convicted of non-violent offences, held an open house on Sunday night to show the citizens of Dallas what they do.
All the Youth Village programs were represented: dog training, career management, financial literacy, computer programs, culinary arts, safe food handling, horticulture and Café Momentum. Café Momentum is the program that Crave readers are most familiar with, but I learned a lot about other programs as well. Like, all of the dogs in the dog training program are inductees from shelter euthanasia programs. In other words, doggie death row. The program saves them, teaches them to be good pets, and finds them permahomes. The young men in the program are in charge of something for likely the first time in their lives. Small wonder that one of them was quoted as saying “I thought nobody cared what I did so I didn’t care. When I started the dog-training program at Youth Village, I really connected with my dog … and the other kids in the program too. When my dog got adopted, I saw what I do matters. It made me feel real good. I think I want to work with animals, maybe even be a vet someday.”
In a similar vein, participants in the horticulture program come in typically knowing nothing about how to grow plants, but after they leave they can grow vegetables ready for the finest restaurants.
Café Momentum’s objective, Crave readers will recall, is to raise money to open a restaurant. Only when that restaurant is open, does Café Momentum’s momentum really begin. It will employ the young men from Youth Village in a commercial restaurant in roles from bussing up to chefing. The model might be Fifteen, a decade long success story in London from which 80% of the entrants remain in the restaurant industry. Café Momentum executive director Chad Houser thinks they might sign a lease in downtown Dallas in the near future. If I were the owner of Victory Park, I would offer Café Momentum free rent for two years to get them to come to Dallas’s equivalent of a Chinese Ghost City and cause the kind of traffic congestion that Fifteen caused when it set up in a grotty corner of London.
The most interesting fact that I discovered during the evening: The recidivism rate for incarcerated young male offenders is 50%. The recidivism rate for those who have been through the Youth Village programs is less than 20%. I bet the number of programs can show that kind of success is very low.
Check out our pictorial of the people involved in the Open House below.
Noble Coyote Coffee Roasters donates a portion of the proceeds from each package of its Café Momentum Blend to Café Momentum. Here, Marta Sprague, whose business card gives her title as ‘Bean Counter’