Rams Program launches Ram Roast Coffee

Rams Program launches Ram Roast Coffee
In an upstairs hallway of the Monsignor Murphy Center, a new coffee cart is open for business. Students and peer mentors in the Rams Program are busy brewing coffee, tracking orders, and making drinks.

Ram Roast Coffee launched at the beginning of 2019. This school-based cart was created to give hands-on, real world experience to our Rams Program students as they practice professional skills, communication, and customer service. It is so important for our program to teach and apply these skills because research shows that around 75 percent of people living with disabilities are unemployed and three times more likely to live in poverty.

“It is critical to help students with disabilities plan and prepare for employment and independence after high school,” says Rams Program Coordinator Mary (Wilson) Mauldin ‘10. “An opportunity to learn and practice a variety of vocational skills through Ram Roast Coffee helps us to set our students up for success.”

The Ram Roast Coffee cart and equipment were provided through grants from the University of Portland and the Winter Family Charitable Giving Fund. It had its “soft opening” during first semester finals week in January and has been available for the remainder of the school year to faculty and staff by drop-in and through an app created by one of our students.

When we stopped by the coffee cart, Hannah Galati ‘22, Matthew Andersen ‘22, and peer mentor Paige Cooper ‘19 greeted us with big smiles. With some coaching from Paige, Hannah takes our order for two teas and accepts the payment. A small group of students is working through a list of online orders and delivering them to staff around the school. Paige is a senior and has been a peer mentor in the Rams Program since she was a sophomore. Now five semesters into mentoring, she says she loved working with students this year at the cart. “It’s always fun to see the students engaged and excited to do the work,” she says. “I think getting them acclimated with working a job and putting those interpersonal skills to work and interact with somebody that is asking them for help, instead of them asking us for help [is valuable]. It gets them ready for what’s going to happen after Central Catholic.”

Mary says she has been blown away by the support from the wider community. This spring, the Rams Program had the opportunity to visit Sustainable Harvest Coffee Importers, owned by Central Catholic parent Dave Griswold. Students and their mentors learned the ins and outs of how coffee is grown, shipped, roasted, and packaged and the team at Sustainable Harvest demonstrated the art of cupping. The Rams Program also had the opportunity to partner with BC Graphics to make a Ram Roast Coffee t-shirt. With the help of parent Donna Prosser the students were able to turn their hand drawn graphic into a digital schematic that they could screen print. The group traveled to BC Graphics to physically pull the screen print on their shirts.

“Both of these trips provided our Rams students various ways to share their gifts and talents in the community. They have worked hard all year learning and practicing the needed skills to run Ram Roast Coffee,” Mary said.

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If you would like to learn more about supporting this inclusive program at Central Catholic, please contact Mary (Wilson) Mauldin ’10: mwilson@centralcatholichigh.org.