by: DAVID F. ASHTON - Linsey Haraldsen, freshman at Cleveland High School, is ready to make another cappuccino or espresso as part of the Café au Play barista job-skills training program. It originally was the “Drive-thru Wake-Up Deli” – until the owner was caught selling pseudoephedrine to labs making methamphetamine in 2003.

But neighbors and supporters turned the building at 5633 S.E. Division Street, across the street from Atkinson Elementary School, into “Tabor Commons” in 2006; and opened “Café au Play” in 2010. There are ambitious goals for the small community center.

Over the last four years, Café au Play Executive Director Kristin Heying told THE BEE, one of the programs they’ve begun is coffee barista job-skills training. And now, there is a $10,000 community grant in hand to develop it.

The idea for the program was suggested when Franklin High School students came in for a bagel or a smoothie, recalled Heying. “We wanted to incorporate them into Café au Play, and so this is was our first step in doing that. As the training program expanded, it needed to have its own dedicated programming.”

Students accepted into this free apprenticeship program range in age from 14 to about 22 years old, Heying said, although some adults are accepted into the program, too.

However, up till now, because of the limited hours of the Café, students have limited opportunity to serve coffee, until they've been training for six months. “The idea of the expansion [which the grant will fund] is that they get to have more responsibilities in the Café, and be able to serve their drinks within one to two months of the time they started training.”

The $10,000 “Grow Community Fund Grant” just received from Advantis Credit Union will help them expand their training, by funding a new “HYPERLINK "" Night Grounds” program, Heying revealed. “We thank all the people who ‘voted’ for us. Word about our campaign to get this grant [from Advantis] spread far and wide – across the United States.”

The community was invited to vote for one of the 12 semi-finalists of this year’s Grow Community Fund grants, explained Advantis Credit Union Community Relations Manager Kyleigh Gill.

“Grow Community is a $50,000 annual fund that supports nonprofit organizations, to help them start or maintain educational and human services oriented programs,” Gill added. “The ‘Night Grounds’ program at Café au Play was one of our six finalists.” And, in the end, it was the winner of the $10,000 grant this year.

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