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Old Skool Cafe supports at-risk youth in San Francisco.

Youth come to Old Skool Cafe from a variety of backgrounds including those challenged by the conditions of poverty, domestic violence, street violence, drug use, gang life, incarceration, foster care, early parenting and more. Old Skool Cafe offers more than just employment. We provide a supportive environment to help our youth receive job training skills and paid work experience in all aspects of the restaurant business. They are supported with other resources and a sense of family to help them succeed in all aspects of their lives. 

 
 

Meet Old Skool Cafe Youth

Youth are key decision makers and take ownership in Old Skool’s program and restaurant.

Old Skool Cafe youth, between the ages of 16-22, claim their own sense of family, purpose, reconciliation, restoration, practical skills, and even public speaking as a result of their participation. The youth are given skills and purpose; the community is given a connection and a gathering place.


Romayn

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My name is Romayn and I am 22 years old. I live in the Bayview District and I began working at Old Skool in October 2013. I first heard about Old Skool from a friend so when my probation officer suggested it I decided to give it a try. I wanted to prove to myself that I could get hired and make money in a regular job.

Before that time my life was unproductive and unhealthy. There were many bad influences around me. Since I still live in the neighborhood those influences haven’t gone away. But now I have support and opportunities to grow that keep me healthy and productive.

At Old Skool I’ve been given a leadership role as a floor manager and I enjoy making sure all of our guests have a great experience. I want our guests to enjoy great ambiance with great food and great service.

I want to continue to grow by attending college and through different life experiences. I hope to be a part of improving the neighborhood someday after I’ve established myself in business. I love to create and for a long time I’ve wanted to start my own fashion line and my own restaurant in San Francisco. Since working at Old Skool I’ve added a third dream--to become a philanthropist.

A boy does what he wants. A man does what needs to be done.
— A saying that keeps me focused

Carlos

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My name is Carlos. I am 19 years of age and I have been a part of Old Skool since July 2013.

My life before I came to Old Skool was very difficult. My father died when I was 14 and I didn’t know how to deal with my emotions. I didn’t know where to turn for help and I made poor choices. For the next four years I was in and out of continuation school, juvenile hall and a rehabilitation center. After turning 18 I wanted to change and start again, but I didn’t have the support I needed. Finally, my probation officer recommended that I apply at Old Skool Cafe. I took advantage of the opportunity and here I am.

I have made huge progress and now have the support system I was in need of. I have learned communication skills, the duties of working in a restaurant business, how to be a better person and a lot about myself.

Places like Old Skool Cafe are important to the community because they save lives by providing job skills, life skills, therapy, a second family, income, wisdom, and lots of support. Now I have graduated from high school and plan to attend college. I have a job that I love and a passion for helping people that have been through similar challenges.

My desire is to help youth be successful. I know that if I can make it, anyone can. I would like to own my own business or be an investigator and work in criminology.  

And most importantly, I am alive and free!


Taihemiah

My name is Taihemiah and I am 18 years old. I found Old Skool on a youth job website and began work in December of 2014. I live in Hunter’s Point so it is easy to get to work from home. I love being at Old Skool because I love being around people who are my age. I also love learning about the restaurant business. I’ve been a hostess and a server but I also enjoy setting up the restaurant and bussing tables. I love interacting with customers and because of Old Skool I’ve learned how to communicate better and how to speak in front of people.

My goal is to finish high school and attend college to study culinary arts. I want to be a pastry chef one day. My favorite dish on the menu is shrimp and grits.


Mia

My name is Mia and I am 19 years old. I live in the Bayview area and I began working at Old Skool in January of 2015.  It was a long process to get hired at Old Skool and I had to stay focused during the application, interview and training process.

I had heard that Old Skool was a good place and that they helped young people grow.  I have found that to be true for me. I have struggled with family, health and relationship issues and it is helpful to be around people who are my age and struggling with similar things but still growing.

I am learning to open up to people about what is happening in my life and also how to care well for myself. When I begin to feel overwhelmed I am learning to take a deep breath and pray.

I want to be a preschool teacher someday.  I love working with kids and listening to what is going on with them. I am currently taking child development classes so I can make this goal a reality.


Cherelle

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Hello, my name is Cherelle and I am 20 years old. I was born and raised in San Francisco and I currently live in the Bayview district. My parole officer introduced me to Old Skool Cafe when I was 16 years old and I began in November of 2011. I was part of renovating and opening this building, helping to paint the red wall.

Before Old Skool my life was always a struggle. I learned I had to take what I wanted because no one was going to help me. When I first started working at Old Skool it was difficult for me to be disciplined and responsible. However, I graduated from high school and got off probation in 2012 and began to see the reward for all my hard work.

Being at Old Skool I realized I have leadership skills and I want to lead well and with humbleness. This is difficult in my environment where youth just get angry and cause trouble. But I am now surrounded with positive role models and my tenacity is paying off.

I hope to begin college soon so I can continue to grow and learn. My brother is disabled and he is my biggest motivation.  Because of him I keep striving to be the responsible adult that God wants me to be.

Working at Old Skool has been a very difficult experience but I would not have made it without the support and encouragement I found here.  Old Skool  is training me to become a very professional young lady and one of the youth leaders here. I have a passion for baking and my favorite dish is the Lavender Cheesecake. No matter what my job is, my goal is to be humble and hard to offend.  With that I know I will be very successful.

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
— Maya Angelou

Raven

My name is Raven. I’m 21 years old and I live in the Bayview district of San Francisco. I have been working at Old Skool for four months and I learn something new each day I’m here.

When I came to Old Skool, I was on the verge of giving up trying to achieve anything in life. I had lost motivation to better myself because I felt I had no one that was truly there for me.

Now that I’m at Old Skool I have people who believe in me. The staff are great people and I am growing as a person. I am learning cooking skills and I'm working on perfecting my people skills. I am currently a server.

My favorite thing about Old Skool is the ambiance and my favorite dish on our menu is Daniel’s Gumbo. My journey has been bumpy and challenging, but worth it. It is important to have places like Old Skool around because it is so more than a job. It is a safe haven for young people like myself.

When I think of Old Skool and how its slowly helping me manifest into this great person I think of this quote. 

A flower does not think of competing against the flower next to it... it just blooms!