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Misericordia helps provide employment opportunities, where the general community does not provide fully. Misericordia also acts as a role model for employing persons with disabilities. Employment opportunities exist in micro-enterprises, in production work, and in direct campus employment.
Micro-Enterprises: Micro-enterprises are programs that operate in business models, providing goods and/or services to the greater community, specifically to provide compensable work opportunity and experience for participants. Micro-enterprises give participants real work experiences that translate into resume building experiences. Misericordia operates the following micro-enterprises:
Hearts and Flour Bakery: The Hearts and Flour Bakery prepares a variety of delicious baked goods, including cookies, brownies, bread, cakes, and many other specialty items. Participants are able to prepare dough, scoop cookie dough balls, cut brownie hearts, heat seal breads, and hand package items, to name just a few of the work skills. The Hearts and Flour Bakery ships all over the country through online sales, and is very popular at the holidays. Participants of the Hearts and Flour Bakery have gone on to work in commercial bakeries and kitchens in the community, in the food service industry, as well as a variety of other employers, benefitting from the work skills obtained in the Bakery.
Coffee from the Heart: Coffee from the Heart has existed as a micro-enterprise since 2010. Participants are engaged in grinding, weighing, and packaging coffees and teas. Coffee from the Heart is Misericordia’s private label coffee product, but the program packages for Columbia Street Roastery, as well, packaging product for area hotels. The Coffee from the Heart program continues to expand, and most recently, became a supply option for Com Ed offices. Coffee from the Heart not only prepares participants for food industries, but the weight and measures attention to detail, along with focused work, transfers into many employment settings.
Greenhouse Inn: The Greenhouse Inn is a restaurant open to the public, serving a full lunch menu. Participants greet patrons, take their orders, and prepare their drinks, sandwiches, and desserts. Participants also help prepare the Inn for opening, clean-up at closing, and take care of all the dishes! The Greenhouse Inn gives participants regular contact with customers from the community, allowing them to work on customer service, courtesies, accuracy and quality of service, and communications. Participants of the Greenhouse Inn have gone on to work in dining establishments in the community, caring roles in the community, as well as a variety of employment experiences.
Food Truck: The Misericordia Food Truck is the latest micro-enterprise offered. It’s a hybrid in that the existence serves the same purpose, to provide employment opportunity, but the work is fully delivered in the community. The Food Truck expands the mission of the Hearts and Flour Bakery and the Coffee from the Heart programs, delivering coffee and bakery goods into the community. The Food Truck follows Chicago food truck policy and procedure, operating like any other food truck in the city. It is also available for special event rental as well. The Food Truck gives participants the opportunity to develop skills in communications, customer service, and sales, along with the responsibilities of preparing the food truck for runs with adequate stock.
Production Work: Hand packaging and assembly has a long tradition of being a compensable work opportunity for people with disabilities. While not right for everyone, many participants find the nature of repetitive, simple tasks comforting and accomplishable, and allow a broad base of persons to participate in compensable work, working at their own pace. Misericordia works with a variety of Chicagoland area businesses to provide a variety of production work opportunity throughout the year, to include (but not limited to): assembling cleaning kits, prepare race event promotional bags, packaging holiday and note cards, collating and assembling corporate literature, and many more. Production work goes beyond endlessly piecing together “widgets”, and often makes a very nice compliment to, or change of pace from, the participants’ daily schedules.
Direct Campus Employment: Participants who participate in direct campus employment work in a variety of roles on campus, typically filling in complimentary role in support departments. Direct campus employment is not a program, but does give the participants the opportunity to develop their work skills, with Misericordia as their employer, and add to their resume. Direct campus employment opportunities at Misericordia have included within departments such as: the nursing office, medical records, purchasing and delivery, the mail room, recycling, laundry, and housekeeping.