As Ambassador Dave entered the GiGi’s Genesis Health Bar this morning, he exclaimed, “finally!” when he saw our reinvented salad bar. While for many the salad bar means a healthy option for lunch, it means so much more to our ambassadors. With the re-opening of our salad bar this week, we’re reminded of the importance of our restaurant, not just within the community but among the individuals with Down syndrome that we work with each day.
With a vision to eliminate barriers, Genesis Health Bar gives individuals with disabilities opportunities to grow and explore employment. Learning opportunities provide experience in customer service, independence, career training, community integration, building self-confidence, teamwork, promoting acceptance in the community by developing social, interpersonal and occupational skills.
Dave, a graduate of our GiGi U program, works in the health bar each week and along with his job experience, he’s also developed a healthy diet. Since working at Genesis Health Bar, Dave has lost 10 pounds and enjoys healthy options at home. In addition to working at the Health Bar, Dave also volunteers at his father’s church, providing Dave with meaningful experiences throughout the week outside of the health bar.
Like Dave, all individuals within Genesis Health Bar graduate from our GiGi U, which is designed to motivate adults with Down syndrome to achieve their highest potential in the world through innovative, educational, goal-development and small group skills instruction, health and wellness, career skills, empowerment, community engagement and exceptional work opportunities.
For the past two years, Teya Lahr, Genesis Health Bar manager, has worked with each of our ambassadors after they graduate from GiGi U to empower them in their journey to employment and meaningful volunteer work.
“The growth for our ambassadors has been tremendous, and I’ve enjoyed watching each ambassador build their career and customer service skills. It’s a life-changing experience for everyone involved – ambassadors, volunteers, customers and staff,” Teya said.
Genesis Health Bar and GiGi’s Playhouse Fort Wayne is 100 percent funded by the generosity of our community. Private support raised through the annual gala and golf outing are essential in continuing to offer free, purposeful therapeutic, educational and career training programs. If you’re interested in being a part of life-changing programs like our career development programs, please consider volunteering or making a contribution on our website.