Client Stories

Building an inclusive community…one meal at a time

L’Arche Tova Café

Each day, L’Arche Tova Café attracts an eclectic customer base with tasty all-day breakfast favourites, monthly specials, mouth-watering baked goodies, and an ever-expanding catering menu.

But great food is only part of the story at this friendly eatery in the heart of Transcona.

Intellectual disability is a life condition for the people who experience it. Since those with an intellectual disability can find it hard to express themselves clearly, or understand others, many who live with the condition find it difficult to make connections and find meaningful work.

And often, people with an intellectual disability are neglected and abused.

As a social enterprise of L’Arche Winnipeg, L’Arche Tova Café is building a more compassionate and inclusive space where people living with an intellectual disability can find meaningful employment and interact with customers – not as people who can’t do things, but as people who can.

Café staff work in a variety of areas, from greeting customers, to serving, to helping in the kitchen.

L’Arche Tova Café staff flourishes in an environment where patience and compassion are embraced

Nick Morier, Chef and General Manager, sees how Café staff flourish in an environment where patience and compassion are embraced. “Our staff tell us that [L’Arche Tova Café] is the first workplace where they haven’t cried or been yelled at.”

Diane Truderung, who handles fund development and communications, sees progress and growth on a daily basis. “The individuals with an intellectual disability feel good about working at the Café. Not only do they learn more skills, but they are able to interact with the customers, which they enjoy.”

For an organization focused on social goals, the business side can be challenging.

Frank Atnikov, Manager of SEED’s business development programs worked closely with the Café to develop strategies to build the business.

“Frank asked the questions that need to be asked,” says Diane. “With his assistance, we feel we’ve come a long way.”

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