• Pastries for a purpose: 4 Chicagoland bakeries and cafes supporting the disabled community

    by Nicole Schnitzler / Chicago Tribune / December 4, 2023

    When her physically and intellectually disabled son William was aging out of his high school vocational training program, Joan Hallagan was concerned about his future — and that of his community.

    “At 22 years old, these young adults are on their own,” she said.

    According to a 2022 Bureau of Labor Statistics figure, approximately 21% of disabled people are employed.

    Compelled to help, she and her sister Cathy Maassen opened Will’s Place, a nonprofit cafe employing people with disabilities. William reports there for work several days a week to help in the kitchen and welcome customers.

    Hallagan and Maassen are joined by others trying to address the issue of disability unemployment with the creation of unique workforce training programs. Beyond raising awareness and support for an often-overlooked population, these bakeries and cafes provide opportunities for problem-solving and relationship building.

    “William is a very social young man, so when school ended, I think he deeply missed the community and friendships he had made,” Hallagan said. “At the restaurant, the responsibility of being needed and doing a good job has made a difference in his self-confidence.”

    To see and support the work these places are doing throughout Chicagoland, visit any of these venues for coffee, pastries and memorable service.

    Dorothy’s Sweet Shoppe at Gateway to Learning

    When Dorothy and Roger Hough were told that their two developmentally... Read more HERE





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