$50,000 for kitchen venture to help at-risk youths
EMERGE Toowoomba has raised more than $50,000 for a venture to get at-risk kids off the streets and into the kitchen.
The social enterprise has poured the funds into the purchase of local cafe, The Sauce, which it will use to provide work experience for marginalised teens.
"Most of the kids who come (to us) just need a job, so we will get them that and then figure out the rest," Emerge managing director Jen Shaw said.
The cafe will serve a dual purpose, also offering opportunities to new business owners.
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"It will be a little different to your traditional cafe; people will be able to hire this space," Ms Shaw said.
"We want to create a platform for start-up or new businesses to be able to step in and get their ideas off the ground.
"By creating a food community we hope to provide more opportunities to the kids.
"Eventually we would like to see the kids get into this entrepreneurial space, especially those with limits to education, so they can try starting a hospitality business."
Ms Shaw started Emerge 18 months ago, after spending much of her youth on the streets.
"People don't think there is youth homelessness in Toowoomba, but there are lots of it," she said.
"It looks different - it's no longer sleeping under a bridge, it's instead living in unsafe conditions, couch surfing and forming relationships.
"With the cafe, I hope to show them there is another way, that no matter what, you can always emerge."
Moana Flynn will be one of the first teens to train at the new cafe. She said the offer was more than just experience.
"I believe the smallest (thing) can often make the biggest difference," she said.
"The amount of (stuff) we get up to when we're not doing something is ridiculous."
The cafe, at 1 Station St, will open on Monday.