Community leaders Kasondra Cohen, Face of Today Foundation, and Joy MacPhail, Face the World Foundation, get behind the Willow Bean Café barista training program at VGH, which employs people recovering from mental illness.

January 29, 2015 – Baristas at the Willow Bean Café brew a good cup of coffee. But this café also serves something money can’t buy – hope. Located in the Willow Pavilion at VGH, the Willow Bean Café is a social enterprise that operates a business not to turn a profit, but to transform lives. The café employs people recovering from mental illness.

Baristas work with an Employment Support Coordinator to learn about teamwork, goal setting, and obtain:
– Barista training and certification
– Food safety and workplace safety education
– Six months paid, supported work experience
– Assistance in transitioning to competitive employment

Community organizations like the Face of Today Foundation are partnering with VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation to raise money in support of this barista training program. Face of Today Foundation will fund three Willow Bean Café trainees this year under the age of 30.

“Our mandate is to empower underprivileged youth to achieve their full potential,” says Kasondra Cohen, Face of Today Foundation President & CEO. “This unique program can help youth gain skills and build confidence to overcome barriers to traditional employment and create future opportunities.”

The Willow Bean Café is a partnership between Vancouver Coastal Health, Vancouver/Burnaby branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association and Sodexo, which manages the café. The program trains 12 baristas a year and there’s no shortage of applicants.

“The café provides hope and inspiration to our clients in Willow Pavilion when they see individuals with mental health challenges working in Willow Bean”- says Chris Flynn, Manager of Programs at Willow Pavilion.

We also need your help to keep the program going: $39,000 a year for two years is needed to support the barista training program that makes the café so valuable to our community. Your donations will be an investment in the future of people striving to overcome mental illness and will make a difference in strengthening our community.



From February 3-28, text WILLOW to 41010 to donate $20