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From left to right: At Libro Community Café’s recent event, Executive Chef Paolo Vasapolli, worked with Balal Mohamed, Vivian Hui and Veronica Miller to prepare fish tacos with pickled red cabbage, and served the meals to the community. From left to right: At Libro Community Café’s recent event, Executive Chef Paolo Vasapolli, worked with Balal Mohamed, Vivian Hui and Veronica Miller to prepare fish tacos with pickled red cabbage, and served the meals to the community.

Community café prepares youth for work

Over a period of a few months UWindsor student Vivian Hui learned new skills as a cook,  cashier and waitress, thanks to a community program that equips young people with leadership and employment skills through implementing and operating a community cafe.

Libro Community Café (LCC) is a Community University Partnership (CUP) initiative. CUP was established in 2005 through the vision of the Field Education Office of the UWindsor School of Social Work, as a partnership among UWindsor; the Windsor Essex Community Housing Corporation; the Glengarry Non-Profit Housing Corporation; and the City of Windsor.

Funded by the Libro Credit Union, a financial institution with a focus on community building and local financial support, the LCC was designed and facilitated by youth residing in the Reginald community in collaboration with social work student interns.

“The cafe provides opportunities for residents to participate in community engagement and food security training,” says UWindsor alumni (MSW ’09), Social worker and CUP program coordinator Elizabeth Malone.

Hui, a second year biology student, trained alongside six other youth aged 15 to 20 to run the café in their Reginald-Lassaline community. The group opened their café one night per week to their neighbours, offering meals priced at $3.50.

Hui has lived in the Reginald-Lassaline community for six years, but didn’t speak to anyone in her neighbourhood until she joined the program.

“After I got hired, I worked closely with five other youth and met many people.”

Hui and her team went through intensive training during the program, learning about food preparation and budgeting, taking turns on all tasks and designing their own activities.

“My co-workers and I were able to decide what we wanted to do - from planning the menus to actually decorating the sign and uniforms.”

At LCC’s recent event, Hui and her team worked with UWindsor Executive Chef Paolo Vasapolli, to prepare fish tacos with pickled red cabbage - together serving 60 meals.

Hui says the LCC has definitely been a great experience.

“It not only establishes a sense of community, but also it gave me the opportunity to get experience in different fields of employment, opening up many doors in my future.”