McKinney Cafe Launches Training Academy to Employ Adults With Special Needs

The McKinney nonprofit says they have a solution to the 'help wanted' signs seen across North Texas

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The nonprofit behind Hugs Café and Greenhouse in McKinney is now furthering its mission to enhance the lives of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The recently launched Hugs Training Academy will teach employable skills in the restaurant and hospitality industry for adults with special needs.

The first 12-week course launched in March inside a temporary space at Trinity Presbyterian Church in McKinney.

The hope is area employers will hire the academy’s graduates.

“We’re providing them training so they can go out in the world and get a job – a meaningful job,” said Hugs Café Inc. Founder & President Ruth Thompson. “If you treat them with kindness and respect you have an employee for life.”

Student Danny Sigler already has a job at Hugs Café, but is taking the course so he can have more responsibilities in the kitchen.

“I like making the sandwiches and seeing the customers with smiles on their faces,” Sigler said.

Real estate development McKinney East donated land to Hugs Café Inc. so they can build their own training facility with the hopes of expanding and training more people. The future site will be located in east McKinney and a fundraising campaign to build the new facility will be announced later this year.

Hugs Café Inc. Director of Development Lauren Smith said the academy can help fill vital jobs as North Texas deals with a labor shortage.

“Restaurants can all testify right now that they’re needing staff,” said Smith. “They’re needing quality individuals that want to work and our students are just that answer.”

Thompson said Hugs Café and Greenhouse did not lose one employee over the last two years and the training academy will help employers duplicate that success by providing meaningful work to people who want it.

Already Jason's Deli, Sweetwater's Coffee & Tea and others have expressed interest in the program.

“This is what we personify – hope, understanding, grace and success,” Thompson said.

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