← Back

Nourishing body & soul at Madonna Heights’ Café Believe

September 18, 2014 / Independent Youth News

Homemade breakfast burritos, chocolate chip pancakes and strawberry smoothies served at a five-star table setting…Thursday morning breakfasts haven’t been the same since Café Believe opened at our Madonna Heights Residence in December 2012. What began as a challenge for the overnight staff to create an incentive for residents to complete their morning routines, has turned into a wonderful weekly homemade breakfast prepared and served to the residents by the overnight staff in a cozy campus kitchen.

Residents who exhibit good behavior and comply with all of their required morning routines – waking up on time, completing morning chores, being on time for school, etc. – for the entire school week are invited to attend breakfast at Café Believe on Thursday. There they are treated to a mouth-watering meal – what’s more, the girls get to choose from a new menu each week. Overnight staffers Georgina Foster-Proctor, Carol Vickers, Marlene Mason, Marie Morris, Joanne Edmonds and Shantol Belgrave begin preparing the meals at night in addition to their regular responsibilities so everything’s ready when the girls arrive at the Café in the morning.

“It’s really motivated me,” said one resident, who has become a Café regular. She has now attended Thursday morning breakfast for 48 straight weeks and counting.

The Café is more than just an incentive for the girls, however, it has become a place to bond and for the overnight staff to get to know the young women. When they arrive, every girl and staff member discusses how they’re feeling and what they want to accomplish that day. The entire group responds with positive reinforcement. “Investing in relationships pays dividends,” says Georgina. “The girls can see that you really care about them.”

The girls are very vocal about how much they appreciate the meals and the time and effort the staff puts into preparing them. Hearing that appreciation and seeing the girls doing their best to earn a Café breakfast gives the staff a sense of accomplishment. They see the girls’ behavior improving and hear the young women encouraging each other. “The Café makes them happy and makes them feel special,” says Carol. “Home cooking reminds them of home.”


of residents in our NYC shelters were successfully discharged to stable housing

Support Our Mission

With your gift, you can help strengthen New York families and unlock potential for children and adults with special needs.

Donate Now

Stay in the loop

Subscribe to the SCO Newsletter to hear the latest on SCO’s programs, people, and happenings.