As a socially involved and civically conscious Dallasite, you may be familiar with Cafe Momentum. But the acclaimed restaurant — where young men and women work in all aspects of the restaurant, learning life and social skills along the way — originally grew out of an organization called Youth With Faces.
The nonprofit helps youth beat the cycle of incarceration through several programs that encourage foundational skills needed to be capable, contributing members of the community.
Founded in 2001, Youth With Faces started out by providing materials and meals to the kids in Dallas County’s Youth Village. It expanded in 2008 to include rehabilitation programs, and today it annually impacts the lives of approximately 200-300 youths at Dallas County's Letot Residential Center, Medlock Treatment Center, and Youth Village.
"Most of our kids have faced things you or I cannot imagine," says Youth With Faces CEO Chris Quadri. "It's rewarding to watch how they change the more time they spend in our classes. We want everyone to know our kids have potential, because we see it every day."
Through programs such as Career Readiness, Culinary Arts, PREP Dog Training, and Horticulture Therapy, young men and women in the juvenile system learn important lessons in leadership, empathy, and patience. Social skills are reinforced daily, with emphasis on making eye contact, dealing with frustration and disappointment, and following through on commitments.
Knowing that if kids can get back in school or secure a job after release, their chances of success are far greater, so the group teaches how to set goals and plan the steps to achieve them. Through career readiness and education, youth learn how to prepare a resume, interview, and find and keep culinary, retail, and other gateway jobs. Youth With Faces also connects its kids to a network of employers.
Partnerships with organizations that include several Dallas restaurants are reinforced not only through hands-on learning and chef-led demonstrations, where the youth get to see someone who looks and talks like them achieving a productive career, but also through events like the inaugural Field & Vine wine dinner.
The five-course, farm-to-table soiree is set for May 6 at the historic Turner House in Oak Cliff, where some of Dallas' finest chefs will prepare an al fresco Sunday meal. Matt Balke (Bolsa), Graham Dodds (The Statler), Sharon Hage, (restaurant consultant and chef), Jeff Harris, (Headington Restaurants, Commissary), and Nathan Tate (Boulevardier, Rapscallion) will each prepare a course of locally sourced fare, accompanied by paired wines. A cocktail hour will precede the dinner.
"In the past two weeks, we've received a call every day from someone who wants to help," says Quadri. "Several of the Field & Vine chefs have worked with our kids, and with their support we're reaching so many more in the community who are ready to get involved."
All ticket sales and sponsorships benefit Youth With Faces and its valuable programs. And if that celebrity chef lineup has whetted your appetite, you'd better hurry — tickets are selling fast.