On Tuesday, May 16 the At the Lake Café, located on the main level of Providence Care Hospital, welcomed patients, clients, staff, physicians and visitors to celebrate its official grand opening. The café, which opened on Monday April 24, is the newest affirmative business launched by the Voices Opportunities and Choices Employment Club (VOCEC). VOCEC is a not-for-profit organization that provides supportive employment to people living with mental illness.
The grand opening, which was attended by Mayor Bryan Paterson, Phillip Brown, President and CEO of Brown’s Fine Food Services, and VOCEC’s Affirmative Business Operations Manager, Ben Gooch also featured a ribbon cutting ceremony. “It’s no coincidence that this café is in the heart of Providence Care Hospital”, said Gooch. In its first two weeks of operation the café has been a resounding success averaging over 400 customers a day.
Planning for the café began years ago but was met with a significant funding challenge. VOCEC, with support of the University Hospitals Kingston Foundation, raised over $500,000 to design and develop the space. Through significant fundraising efforts and generous support from Brown’s Fine Food Services, the Goodway Community Thrift Store and Providence Care staff, almost $400,000 was raised to offset these costs. At the ceremony Phillip Brown was presented with a plaque that read “Imagine the Possibilities”. Brown said “we are very proud to be part of this and we know the whole community will be supporting you in this”. VOCEC contributed the remaining $100,000 from its retained earnings.
The At the Lake Café features a variety of homemade soups, sandwiches, snacks and baked goods, beautiful décor, and friendly service from its associates. The mission that drives VOCEC is that “through work, recovery is possible”. With the opening of the At the Lake Café in Providence Care Hospital, this newest business venture has created 20 jobs for individuals living with mental illness.
VOCEC has several other businesses in the community including two other cafes, landscaping services, a carwash, catering, print shop, assembly/packaging, warehousing, distribution and cleaning services. As an award-winning not-for-profit corporation, all earnings are reinvested to create more jobs.