NORTHAMPTON — ServiceNet recently hosted Massachusetts Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services Kate Walsh, acting Undersecretary of Human Services Dana Sullivan, and Commissioner of Disability Services Jane Ryder for a visit at ServiceNet’s Rooster Café, located at its headquarters on 21 Olander Dr. in Northampton. They were joined by state Sen. Jo Comerford and state Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa, among other guests.
ServiceNet offers several vocational training and employment programs for individuals with developmental disability, autism, brain injury, or mental-health challenges, which enable them to gain vocational skills while contributing meaningfully to the rich agricultural life of the Pioneer Valley.
At ServiceNet’s Prospect Meadow Farm in Hatfield, individuals care for animals, raise market crops, assist customers, and more. Participants in ServiceNet’s Rooster Café culinary program in Northampton prepare meals and serve customers, using many of Prospect Meadow’s farm-fresh ingredients. Through job coaching, hands-on experience, and workshops, participants learn vocational skills that apply to their work at the farm, café, and eventual employment in the community.
While enjoying a few of the café’s signature dishes, Walsh and guests heard from current café employees about the positive impact the experience of working at the café has had on them. Shawn Robinson, director of Vocational Services at ServiceNet, also spoke about his excitement and vision for these programs, including a renovation and expansion project that is currently underway.
“ServiceNet was honored to have Secretary Walsh and officials from the Department of Developmental Services join us to hear about the vocational opportunities being created and lives being improved through meaningful paid work offered by the Rooster Café and Prospect Meadow Farm,” Robinson said. “And we are grateful for the Healey administration’s commitment to innovative human-service initiatives across the Commonwealth.”
ServiceNet’s Rooster Café was one of two local visits for the group, which also toured the neighboring Whole Children and Milestones programs.