FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) -- Hidden inside GiGi’s playhouse on North Clinton Street in Fort Wayne is GiGi’s Genesis Health Bar.
Since 2018, ambassador employees of the health bar, all with Down Syndrome, have been taking food orders, preparing healthy meals, and providing high-energy service to customers.
Manager Teya Lahr says the work has been life-changing.
"When I first started three years ago, some of them couldn’t even talk to customers or run the cash register and they just have blossomed," Lahr explained.
On top of running the health bar and catering events, they’re embarking on a new venture starting Monday, May 10th. A way to help curb losses from the pandemic.
"We were brainstorming different ideas and we came up with the All-American selling grab-and-go in their fridges," Lahr said. "So, they’ll be doing salads, wraps, and sandwiches."
The ambassadors will put together the food and package it in shop. Then that food will be delivered to the three All-American Store convenience stores in Fort Wayne.
Owner of All-American stores Adam Dager says he wants his stores to be the spot for grab-and-go food, and once he learned more about GiGi’s through an employee fundraiser, he wanted to get more involved.
"For us to be able to help GiGi’s and the ambassadors that I’ve gotten to know by coming in here and just being involved, it’s been really fun to see that opportunity really come to," Dager said.
Through the month of May, all money from the sales will go back to the health bar, as will any donations. Dager says his fundraising goal is $30,000 through the end of the year, but the overarching goal is to create more opportunities.
Lahr explained, "Our ambassadors are just like me and you. They want the opportunity to be able to work with the community and I think this is a huge first step in a great partnership."
The food prepared by GiGi's Genesis Health Bar can be found at the following locations in Fort Wayne:
- All-American Store #2: 513 E Dupont Road, Fort Wayne, IN
- All-American Store #3: 6520 Lima Road, Fort Wayne, IN
- All-American Store #4: 9310 Lima Road, Fort Wayne, IN