Last week, on a quiet Thursday morning in Sylvan Park, a group of Friends and some Friends Life staff spent their early hours volunteering at Edley’s Bar-B-Que. Cleaning and organizing tables, preparing drinks, setting up the outside patio, packaging desserts and more, thanks to Edley’s Bar-B-Que the Friends were gaining real-world, real-time experience on the critical tasks of opening a restaurant.
Part of the service learning curriculum at Friends Life Community, relationships like these with local businesses and nonprofits allow the Friends to develop their job readiness skills in critical ways. They also help those businesses and nonprofits serve more people, while the Friends expand their networks through the community.
This volunteer placement at Edley’s Bar-B-Que is one of the newest partnership for the Friends. Formed in January 2018, it is evident that the Friends are growing in their collaboration skills as they help prepare Edley’s Bar-B-Que for their 11 o’clock lunch rush.
And so far, the Friends are loving it. Jon, who recently gained at McDonald’s, said that he enjoys cleaning when he works at Edley’s Bar-B-Que. The task provides an ideal practice opportunity, which only strengthens his skills for his own job. And the opportunity also allows Edley’s Bar-B-Que employees the chance to give positive feedback and a welcoming work environment for the Friends.
Jim Victor, Life Skills Specialist at Friends Life Community, explained the importance of the Friends having this opportunity at Edley’s Bar-B-Que. “Volunteering at Edley’s builds [the Friends’] confidence and sense of belonging,” Victor said. “[It] brings [the Friends] more awareness of what all goes on in the restaurant industry.” Most importantly, Victor says, the most impactful attribute the Friends gain from this experience is “seeing that the work they’re doing is making a difference.”