Provisions Bakery Reopens after Renovations, Continues Assisted Competitive Employment Program through AccessCNY
Within Provisions Bakery’s newly installed stainless steel bakery cases lay the familiar scones, danishes and other baked goods offered for the past 27 years to Armory Square patrons. Yet Susan Catalino, AccessCNY’s Provisions Bakery Program Manager, notes another offering not as apparent on the bakery’s menu–hope.
Catalino and other members of AccessCNY operate Provisions Bakery and its Assisted Competitive Employment program. The recovery and rehabilitation program provides individuals diagnosed with mental health issues a chance to develop employment-related skills and establish a successful work history to enhance their access to future employment opportunities.
“Everyone who comes here (to work) is hope-filled about what they can be,” Catalino said. “They have an opportunity to meet others who are like them, so they get to share experiences and talk about things that we may not be able to totally understand. That’s a real plus, beyond the gift of the work skills that they can acquire.”
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 19 percent of citizens with disabilities including mental health issues participate in the labor force compared to 68 percent for those without a disability.
Over the past decade, Provisions has served approximately 260 clients, 171 of whom graduated the training program and entered the workforce or additional schooling. In addition to providing workforce training with Provisions, AccessCNY provides personalized services ranging from housing to transitional counseling to people of all ages and abilities.
As individuals developed and grew job skills within the program, the bakery became outdated and in need of renovations. With the help of a Community Foundation grant, AccessCNY purchased and installed new bakery cases, cabinets, floors, tables and chairs, and lighting.
“The renovations were really spurred by regular customers who started to say things to us,” said Matt Seubert, Associate Executive Director of Development for AccessCNY. “We put great stock into those individuals as regular customers and moved forward with the renovations as a result of their input.”
In addition to aesthetic renovations, the bakery installed a to-go station and a wait station to increase service capabilities. Funds also went towards developing product enhancements and marketing efforts that aimed to enhance the customer’s and staff’s experience.
“We’re functional! It is important to all people to have their surroundings as amazing as this. The minute you walk in the door you’re just so proud to be at work,” Catalino said.
Provisions offers a new menu with homemade yogurt and fresh pastries, and now also offers a Provisions Blend coffee developed through a local roaster. A new logo brings the bakery and restaurant back into the spotlight of the Armory Square community.
AccessCNY Executive Director Prudence York noted the tremendous role of the community in all aspects of Provisions’ operations, as customers, volunteers and donors.
“It’s a community effort and we couldn’t do it without our staff, without the foundations, without the donors, the customers – nothing is done in isolation,” she said. “On behalf of all of the people who have had the opportunity to reclaim their self-confidence, their stability and their sense of community, we thank (them).”