Westmont Magazine Feeling Body, Mind, and Soul
Teresa Moore Goines ’97 wanted to help at-risk youth, so she became a probation officer at Los Prietos Boys Camp when she graduated from Westmont. “We worked intensely with the kids and saw them grow by leaps and bounds,” she says. “But as soon as they went back to their old environment, they got in trouble again. I decided I needed to be on the outside to better support them.”
So she quit her job and moved to Mexico to learn the language and the culture.
The next stop was San Francisco, where she worked with a gang prevention program in the Mission District. Just as she was building relationships, she lost her funding. “The kids couldn’t understand why I was leaving when they had finally started to trust me,” she says.
Teresa then became a family service manager for Head Start at 15 Bay Area schools; her case load was 240 families. “It was intense, and it stretched me,” she says. “I learned to juggle and use my time wisely.”
She saw the same problem over and over: kids had no hope — and no job prospects. How could she help them find work? She began developing a proposal for a youth-run supper club in San Francisco with a 1930s theme. All the employees would be at-risk kids ages 16-24. The club would provide meaningful employment, intensive mentoring by volunteers and professional development leading to a career. Not only would the youth learn to cook, wait on tables and run the business, but they could perform on stage and unleash their creativity.
One of the kids came up with a name: Old Skool Café for the period costumes and decor. Teresa is raising support and looking for a building. She plans to operate six nights a week and stage big shows Friday and Saturday. A number of Westmont alums are involved in the project, including Rebecca Neuhouser ’05, the assistant director.
“We’ve designed the program to provide solid alternatives to a life of crime and poverty,” Teresa says. “It’s no coincidence that high crime rates go hand-in-hand with unemployment. By providing jobs and job training, we believe we can turn both statistics around.”
Teresa thinks she finally has something to offer the kids she meets, a project that “nourishes body, mind and soul” (www.oldskoolcafe.org).