The At the Lake Café is VOCEC’s (Voices, Opportunities & Choices Employment Club) newest affirmative business. Located on the main level of Providence Care Hospital, the café has been a resounding success from day one. Not only does the At the Lake Café employ and support clients living with mental illness, but recently staff have been using herbs and vegetables grown from a garden on one of the inpatient units to prepare some of its food items.
Kelly Anscombe and Allison, one of VOCEC’s associates, were kind enough to take us along as they picked herbs from the garden on Heritage 2, prepared a dill cream cheese, and prepped the food for a delicious sandwich. Afterwards, we had the opportunity to sit down with Allison and talk about what it means to have the support of staff, physicians, volunteers, patients, clients, and visitors. “It has been a great opportunity to work in such a supportive environment”, she said. With a staff of roughly 20 people, Allison said that her coworkers are like family and that everyone gets along with each other. When talking about the team environment that Allison works in she said that part of what makes At the Lake such a great place to work is that “everyone does everything, and everyone pitches in when someone needs help”. As we talked it became clear that not only do the staff support one another, but they also support the people that come to the café, including the patients who helped to plant the herbs and vegetables they are using.
As our conversation continued we talked about the people we serve at Providence Care Hospital and the mission that drives VOCEC’s work. As an award-winning not-for-profit organization, VOCEC’s mission is that Through work, recovery is possible. Reflecting on her own experience, Allison said, “I think that working here is a motivation for other clients on their journey to recovery”. She said that its nice to see familiar faces at the café, but what she loves about it’s location in the new hospital is that she also gets to meet new people everyday. We laughed and talked about how people are generally very happy coming to the café because they are eager to get their morning coffee or try the latest treat that has been baked from scratch. Reflecting on the overwhelming support of the café Kelly Anscombe said, “We put our heart and soul into the café and we are so happy to see it succeed.”
To learn more about VOCEC visit their website.