This morning, a lady at Joan Bowen told me "Things happen for a reason" and I like that.
You see, I stumbled upon a quaint cafe while walking to the bank near our office and was instantly attracted to the creative motifs and charming graphics on the walls. The decor reminds me of the cafes in the French countryside. After visiting the bank, I made a detour to take a closer look at the cafe called Joan Bowen.
Maybe I should pop in for a cuppa. It's not something I do very often but for some reason I was drawn to that place. Three ladies were huddled over a laptop as I entered. In the kitchen, I could see a group of teens with eager faces moving about, keeping themselves busy.
"Can I come in for a cup of coffee?", I asked.
The ladies stepped forward with smiling faces and explained that they're not ready for business but yes, they're very happy to give me a cup of coffee (for free). As it turns out, I'm their first customer even though the cafe is slated for opening on 9 August 2009.
There I stood, gushing over their generosity, the gorgeous decor and nice little touches in the cafe. It's really my cup of tea! Suddenly I felt very comfortable in the bright cafe, amongst the ladies.
We began talking like friends. One of them has green thumbs like me. She grows lemon grass, basil and lots of herbs in her garden at home. We talked about dogs, travel and the little French cafes that we all love. I showed them my blogs and they showed me theirs.
What impressed me most is the philosophy behind the cafe. I learned that 5,000 students with special needs enter the job market every year and these kids face alot of challenges trying to get a foothold in the market. The 6 youths I saw in the kitchen had just started culinary training this week and should be skillful enough to whip up a meal by the time the cafe opens.
Joan Bowen aims to empower youths and children with special needs by training them with a range of skills that will enable them to make their own mark and contribute as an active member of the larger community. Ultimately, it aims to be the link between youths trained in culinary, print and craft and the industry to provide them with a pool of trained and confident workforce.
Talking to the women behind this company makes me feel very inspired. In fact, I hope to be able to participate in their activities in future. They had invited me to their opening cum flea market and I've promised to attend. I could even sell my gardening products for a charitable cause.
It was by sheer coincidence that I ended up on that street today. What started out as an errand for a friend led to a wonderful discovery. When I said that, the lady beamed and said, "Things happen for a reason."