May 24, 2021
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SIMITIAN PROPOSES COUNTY SUPPORT FOR LIFE SKILLS & JOB
TRAINING FOR RESIDENTS WITH DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES
JOSE – A kitchen, a space, and some County funding. That’s
the unusual three way partnership being championed by Santa Clara County
Supervisor Joe Simitian to fund AbilityPath’s plan to update their kitchen for
job and basic food prep training for adults with developmental disabilities.
Simitian noted it was, “yet another time when we can do so much more if we do
it together with others.”
to team up with Ada’s Café to expand its job training and independent living
skills curriculum for adults with developmental disabilities. This program will
serve residents from Santa Clara County.
recently lost its leased kitchen space and was looking for a new place to prep
meals for their Café and catering business, which focuses on employing residents
with developmental disabilities. AbilityPath – located nearby on a County-owned
property in Palo Alto – has a kitchen space available so that Ada’s Café can
continue its programs, but it requires significant renovation and upgrades.
funding proposal is approved in June as part of the County budget process,
Ada’s Café will provide all the commercial kitchen equipment while County funds
will pay for gas upgrades, electrical upgrades, and related contractor costs
for installation. This is a one-time grant of $250,000.
The partnership between
AbilityPath and Ada’s Café allows for an expansion of both organization’s
services. The kitchen will be used to teach adults with developmental
disabilities how to prepare and make their meals (so they can live more
independently), job skills for use in the restaurant and catering industries,
and it will also support graduates of the program as they work to prepare meals
in the kitchen as employees of Ada’s Café.
like such a modest effort with a big, big impact,” said Simitian. “AbilityPath
has the space and Ada’s Café has the equipment. All they need is some County support
to make this happen. It’s a perfect partnership, a winner all around.”
“We are so
excited to be partnering with Ability Path on a shared kitchen and new social
enterprise venture,” said Kathleen Foley-Hughes, Founder, Executive Director
and Chef at Ada's Cafe. “This
collaboration will create more work opportunities for mission-based clients and
employees and enable us to reach a larger community of caring customers."
“Ada’s Café is
an amazing, groundbreaking organization” said Bryan Neider, CEO of AbilityPath.
“Their vision of inclusion aligns with our goals too. We are excited to be partnering with Ada’s
and we are very grateful for this opportunity, which is made possible by the generous
grant from Santa Clara County.”
AbilityPath describes itself as
a nonprofit focused on acceptance, inclusion, and respect for people with
special needs. Their goal is to support individuals and their families from
birth through adulthood with an expansive array of programming that helps
empower the individual for life as an adult. AbilityPath offers educational,
vocational, and therapeutic programming as well as family support services. As
an organization, AbilityPath has been “turning disabilities into possibilities”
for over 100 years. The AbilityPath name reflects the recent merger of Abilities
United and GatePath.
Ada’s Café is a nonprofit
dedicated to training and hiring people with developmental disabilities for the
food services and restaurant industries. During the County’s 2015 budget
discussions, Simitian successfully proposed funding for Ada’s Café’s current
café space. The commercial appliances that were purchased, in part, with County
funds at that time are the same ones that will now be used in the new kitchen
Job training is not the only
way the County supports residents with developmental disabilities. At
Simitian’s urging, the County has taken several steps to secure services for those
with developmental disabilities in the past few years:
February of 2017, Simitian championed a grant program to spur the creation of
more all-inclusive playgrounds (like Palo Alto’s Magical Bridge and San Jose’s
Rotary Play Garden). The grant program has since distributed/committed nearly
$20 million to support two dozen playgrounds meant to be inclusive of people of
June of 2017, Simitian successfully proposed a budget item to fund scholarships
for Via West to offer summer camp and respite care programs for adults and
children with developmental disabilities.
In September of 2018, on
Simitian’s motion, the Board directed staff to identify $40 million in County
funds to support the creation of affordable housing units with supportive
services specifically for lower-income residents with developmental
In October of 2019, the Board of Supervisors, following up
on the funding commitment, allocated funds to develop housing for residents
with developmental disabilities at projects in Palo Alto, Sunnyvale, and the
City of Santa Clara.
February of 2020, again at Simitian’s urging, the Board of Supervisors voted to
direct administration to pursue affordable housing development options –
including housing for extremely low and very low-income persons with
developmental disabilities – on a County-owned property at 525 East Charleston
Road, Palo Alto.
And in December of 2020,
the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to award funds to develop housing
for low-income residents with developmental disabilities at a project in San