Garfield, NJ: The Boilermaker Brew pop-up coffee shop is not just about selling coffee, it’s about empowering special needs high school students and preparing them for life after graduation. The program is a collaboration between the Garfield School District’s Life Skills program and the Garfield Police Community Affairs Division led by Sgt. Jeff Stewart. It allows students to gain hands-on experience in the food industry while also learning valuable life skills such as financial literacy. A much needed resource.
The program was entirely funded by grants and community members, and volunteer George Leles of Arabica Coffee Company. It helped the students source beans, experiment with flavors, and roast the coffee. The students even had the opportunity to create their own logos and take lessons on financial literacy.
Garfield PD Speaks Out
LET reached out to Garfield PD to find out more about the program and how it came about. Sgt. Jeff Stewart, the Community Affairs Division Commander said:
“The Garfield Police Department’s Community Affairs Division saw an opportunity to support the special needs community by partnering with the Garfield School District’s LifeSkills program to develop the Boilermaker Brew pop-up coffee shop. This partnership allows us to provide valuable life skills and hands-on experience in the food industry to special needs high school students, preparing them for life after graduation.”
The Boilermaker Brew pop-up coffee shop is located at the Century ‘Field House’ kitchen and operates year round. During the winter, it moves indoors to the local YMCA in Garfield, NJ. Both the Century Field and the YMCA host the students free of charge.
Sgt. Stewart also told LET what the program means to the police department:
“For the police department, the program means building strong partnerships with the community, particularly the special needs community, and creating positive and inclusive opportunities for all members of the community.”
“This program is a perfect example of how police and the community can work together to create positive change. It has been a pleasure to work with the Garfield School District and community partners to provide these students with hands-on experience and valuable life skills. We hope this program will serve as a model for other communities to follow.”
The Chief Speaks Out
Police Chief Rich Uram also weighed in on the program:
“The Boilermaker Brew pop-up coffee shop is a fantastic example of community policing in action. It allows our department to connect with the community on a deeper level and empower special needs students in the process. t’s a win-win situation and we are proud to be a part of it.”
The coffee shop has received positive reviews, and cups sell for $2 small and $3 large. The second year of the program has been fully sustainable by coffee sales, and the goal is to one day have a brick-and-mortar location. That will surely be a beacon in the community.
The Boilermaker Brew pop-up coffee shop is a shining example of what can be achieved when the community comes together to support special needs students. The Garfield Police Department, Police Chief Rich Uram and the Garfield School District should be commended for their innovative approach. It is having a positive impact on the lives of these students. We hope that other communities will take note of this program and be inspired to create similar opportunities for their special needs students.
We hope so, too.
More Coming Up
But Garfield PD isn’t done. They have other community projects on the horizon.
The Garfield Police Community Affairs Division has partnered with the Garfield Boys and Girls Club to create Prime Time Studios, a one-of-a-kind, free creative music studio for at-risk youth in the community. The studio is named after professional boxer Chris “Primetime” Colbert, who has been a major benefactor and volunteer for the project.
The goal of Prime Time Studios is to use school connectedness to get kids in school off the streets and into the studio to learn how to write music, produce, engineer, make beats, and learn the ins and outs of the music industry through the help of industry celebrities and other volunteers in the music business. The police department has funded the project through grants and private donations, ensuring that there is no cost to taxpayers.
Garfield PD is in the process of creating a blue print for how departments across the country should be connecting with the community. During this fragile time for the law enforcement profession, programs like these are exactly what is needed.
We are excited to see what they come up with next.
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