Weather Alerts

Cafe Giving Iowans with Employment Barriers ‘Good Beginnings’

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

DES MOINES, Iowa -- For many people, the difficulty of getting a job is minuscule when compared to those with real barriers to employment.

"We work with people with all types of different barriers," said Paul Soyer, cafe manager at Good Beginnings Coffee Shop. "Being blind, not being able to see as well, not being able to read, write. So we teach them as much as we possibly can and show them the way to actually interact with the customer. That's the big one."

For some central Iowans who struggle to get a job, there's a new start around the corner at the United Way of Central Iowa. Partnered with Goodwill of Central Iowa, the building recently opened Good Beginnings Cafe in January but had its grand opening Wednesday. The coffee, breakfast and lunch shop gives those without the ability to get a job to gain real-life work experience in the service industry.

"This is our first venture into the line of business of operating coffee shops," said Marlyn McKeen, President of Goodwill of Central Iowa. "At this operation, it has up to four training stations, so people gain a basis in food service and gain experience here. Then we have employment specialists who will then go out and help that person find the job, and then do some job-coaching too, with them, as they get acclimated to the new employer."

Only a few months old, it's just the beginning for Good Beginnings; the coffee shop only employs two workers right now, but is preparing to become fully staffed in the coming weeks. Its hope is to replace Smokey Row as the "place to be" for a cup of coffee in town.

"It's unique; there's not another one around," Soyer said. "We're something different, we try to help people. We're not here to serve ourselves, we're here serving them. It's not a facility where it's all about us, it's about them."

Good Beginnings is open at the United Way of Central Iowa building from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday.