Garryelle Smooth, a Powerful Woman Indeed

“It felt like a family the day I walked in to fill my application.”

The year was 2012. Reconcile’s building needed renovation. Garryelle Smooth, a new Intern, needed hope. She and her mother entered the temporary building across the street to fill out an Intern Application. Immediately, she felt at home. 

Garryelle would complete the program and graduate in that temporary building. Her mother was sick on Graduation Day and unable to watch Garryelle receive her Reconcile diploma. In November of 2012, Garryelle’s mother passed away. The Smooth family needed us.

At that time, she was working at Fresh Bar and kept in touch with Onassis Jones, Reconcile’s longest tenured current employee, about other job opportunities.

“We didn’t have insurance at the time my mom passed away. Reconcile helped us with that. Mr. Onassis came to bring us meals and check in on us,” Garryelle said.

Garryelle has five siblings. As she worded it, “Bills still needed to be paid.”

Café Reconcile offered Garryelle a position as Trainer Advocate, formerly known as Graduate Trainer. From 2013 to 2017, Garryelle worked in the hospitality industry, honing her skills, interacting with people, building a future for her and her family.

Toward the end of 2017, a full-time barista position opened at The Roosevelt Hotel. They needed Garryelle to start immediately, and she did. Six months later, she moved to a new position in the hotel, the same job she works today. Today, Garreylle can be found as one of The Roosevelt’s Fountain Lounge’s best waitresses. Her work ethic proved that she could do anything she put her mind to, so in 2018, she graduated from Delgado Community College with an associate’s degree in Business Management and a concentration in Entrepreneurship.

Her hope for the next year is to earn her bachelor’s degree from UNO while she continues to support her family working at The Roosevelt Hotel.

This July, Reconcile honors Garryelle Smooth as our Powerful Woman in Fidelity Bank’s POWER PLATES initiative. She is not only a leader in the hospitality industry, but she also gives back to Reconcile by serving on the 2021 Board of Directors. Garryelle’s brother Fred said it best:

When I lost all hope, Garryelle was the inspiration that I needed. A great person, a great leader, and very positive. She played a major role in my life, and if I’m being honest, she is who’s to thank for me being the person I am today. If there’s a dark tunnel, Garryelle could shine light on it. If something is out of line, Garryelle could straighten it out. She’s filled with joy, creativity, love, prosperity, and happiness. Not only is she a powerful woman, but she is a powerful person. So I can’t think of another person that deserves this more than she does. – Fred Smooth, Garryelle’s brother

Enjoy a glass of Rose in the Cafe!

P.S. Fun Fact – Garryelle and her brother are also co-workers! You can see them in action at The Roosevelt Hotel’s Fountain Lounge working side by side.

Take a Leap of Faith with DJ

Recently, DJ took the biggest leap an Intern can make – from Tier 1 to Tier 2.

“Wow, my first day in Tier 2 was overwhelming,” he said, “unless you’re used to change.”

For many of the young people who you support, change is hard. They’re not used to change. In some cases, Reconcile is the biggest change they’ve made in their young adult life.

“Meeting new people, especially older people, can be hard, too. But then you realize that you have to come here every day and put in the time and effort, because so do they [the staff].”

Grounded in increasing skills, professional development, real-world experience, and independence, our new tiered program approach delivers an expanded, holistic training, and support system to ensure graduates exit the program with skills for life and work and continues to offer those same support services for them after they leave. You inspire our Staff and Interns to connect with each other on a caring, professional level. Take Simone Burrell (Culinary Arts Training Manager) and Delvin Davis (Trainer Advocate), for example.

“Chef Simone and Chef Delvin have made a huge impact. Chef Simone pushes me to learn more because she knows I can. And Chef Delvin, he’s funny and easy to get along with, but he’s strict when he needs to make an important point.” – DJ

By supporting Reconcile, you create opportunities for DJ to plan out short-term and long-term goals. You inspire Interns like DJ to seek out education and the next steps toward a career.

Will you take a leap of faith for Interns like DJ?

What Makes a Trainer Advocate?

There’s always a coach in the corner.

It’s the one thing you can count on. No matter how big or strong your opponent may be, no matter the venue, one thing is constant — there’s always someone in your corner. In a similar way, there’s always someone in a Reconcile Intern’s corner. No matter how big or small of an obstacle, no matter the situation, or the amount of coaching needed to reach success, someone is there.

That person is the Trainer Advocate. 

The Trainer Advocate provides direct hospitality service training to program participants and customer service to guests. They demonstrate positive leadership characteristics with team members and program participants, specifically through the role modeling of Reconcile’s 8 Habits, to inspire a culture of excellence.

Trainer Advocates Juan Shelby and Ethan Williams

Juan Shelby and Ethan Williams are not just recognizable faces on the first floor of the Café. And they are not just “our favorite waiters when we eat at Café Reconcile.” They are outstanding Front-of-House Trainer Advocates. 

When you dine in the Café, you see Trainer Advocates in action, working alongside our Interns. Your donations make sure Juan, Ethan, and the whole team of trainers (7 total) are there for our young people — listening, teaching, and building confidence.

“I was always taught the E3 method — Execute Extraordinary Experiences. I’m not a server. I’m an experience creator. So, when we train the Interns, I encourage them to think that way. They’re more than just a person who brings food to a table. When we give them confidence, they can lift up themselves and create extraordinary experiences for our guests.”
Ethan, Trainer Advocate

By supporting Reconcile, you stand in the Interns’ corner as well.
You help us teach the confidence that creates extraordinary experiences.
And as always, you give us confidence to keep our mission alive and well.

Will you stand in Reconcile’s corner today?

Café Reconcile Open House for Prospective Interns – Mon., June 28

WHO:              Café Reconcile

WHAT:            Open House for Prospective Interns

Young adults, ages 16-24, are invited to learn about Café Reconcile’s paid job training program that equips young people with the tools they need to achieve their potential and pursue their ambitions.

WHEN:            Monday, June 28; 2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

WHERE:          Café Reconcile, 1631 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.

HOW:              Email grow@cafereconcile.org or call 504-934-1640 to participate. Appointments to participate are required.

WHY:               Reconcile Interns learn essential life and occupational skills and are connected to support services such as mental health counseling, legal aid, health care navigation, and housing and childcare assistance, among other critical services.

Throughout the program, Interns learn professional communication methods, resume’ and cover letter writing, front of house hospitality techniques, and back of house culinary techniques. Attention to detail, working within a team dynamic, and time management and leadership skills are among the many transferrable skills that Interns can apply in the hospitality industry and beyond.

Reconcile Interns will benefit from a new customized program experience that is tailored to individual needs and aspirations and meets them wherever they are along their journey. The new model introduces a phased approach, offering a more transformative learning experience that gives participants the time they require to develop the confidence and skills they need to be successful.

In addition to the free job training and support services, participating Interns receive transportation support, a proper industry uniform and footwear, daily meals, and competitive stipend. Reconcile also helps connect Interns to prospective employers.

Congrats, 2021 Graduates! (Video)

On Tuesday, May 18, Reconcile New Orleans honored seven young people at its 2021 Graduation Ceremony. The celebration was led by Reconcile’s Program Team. Aulston Taylor, St. Augustine’s interim president and CEO, served as the keynote speaker. You can watch highlights from Aulston’s speech and the graduate reflections in the video above.

Many people deserve a big “THANK YOU” for the good work that leads to a successful graduation. First, the Donors and Supporters of Reconcile.

Your support throughout the year makes this possible, and the obstacles overcome by these graduates, especially through the pandemic, should not go unnoticed.

Our young people are proof that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Your hope throughout the year allows us to construct a finish line, and these graduates overcame obstacles, chased dreams, and reached that finished line.

The graduates in attendance were quick to thank members of our Program Team, who walk side-by-side with our young people through their Reconcile journey.

Croix McClendon, Program Manager of Employment and Alumni Services, emceed the ceremony with closing remarks given by Executive Director Gerald Duhon.

Finally, we thank Reconcile’s outstanding Catering Staff for the beautifully decorated graduation ceremony and the delicious spread of gourmet food.

Enjoy the video above and the photo gallery below!

Congratulations to the following graduates:

Cierra, 2020
Desiane, 2020
Darionne, 2020
Irish, 2020
Larenzo, 2020
Tyrek, 2020
Kiwine, 2018

Café Reconcile to Host Pay What You Can Day on GiveNOLA Day, Tuesday, May 4

Café Reconcile will host “Pay What You Can” Day in concert with GiveNOLA Day, Tuesday, May 4 from 11 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. GiveNOLA Day is a community-wide event hosted by the Greater New Orleans Foundation that brings the community together to raise awareness and support for nonprofits like Café Reconcile.

“We are pleased to reintroduce Pay What You Can Day,” said Gerald Duhon, executive director. “It is our opportunity to take the initiative to fill a critical need — to feed and nurture the communities that surround and support our Interns as well as the Café Reconcile community. GiveNOLA Day is the perfect time to show Reconcile’s spirit of hospitality by giving back in a meaningful way,” he added.

On Pay What You Can Day/Give NOLA Day Reconcile Interns and Staff members will use their craft for good and demonstrate the true meaning of hospitality — offering their talents in gratitude and service of others.

“Everyone deserves the opportunity to dine with dignity, to be treated with hospitality, and enjoy a meal. On this day, guests are invited to dine and pay whatever amount they are able for their first plate, whether it is $1 or $100,” said Duhon. Additional plates are $10/plate.

Pay What You Can Day/Give NOLA Day is also an opportunity for the community to see Café Reconcile’s mission in action and learn how a gift to Café Reconcile helps transform the lives of young adults by supporting their personal growth, providing workforce development and training, and equipping young people with the tools to achieve their potential.

A special, three-course lunch menu will be served on Tuesday, May 4. Guests can choose from:

Appetizer

  • Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
  • Mixed Green Salad: Strawberries, Goat Cheese, and Sunflower Seeds
  • Fried Green Tomatoes with Crawfish Sauce

Entree (with choice of a side)

  • Fried Catfish
  • Smothered Chicken
  • BBQ Country Style Ribs
  • Shrimp and Grits
  • Stuffed Bell Pepper

Dessert

  • Bananas Foster Bread Pudding
  • Berry Cobbler

Café Reconcile is open for lunch Monday – Friday from 11 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.  For additional information about Café Reconcile, GiveNOLA Day and Pay What You Can Day, visit www.cafereconcile.org.

About Café Reconcile

Café Reconcile has transformed the lives of more than 2,000 young people since opening in 2000. The program works with 90 new young adults each year and over 250 alumni – young people ages 16-24 who seek employment and educational opportunities or both. Café Reconcile’s four-part, tiered Life Skills and Workforce Development Program focuses on addressing barriers to success, such as homelessness and untreated trauma, while teaching culinary and professional skills necessary to gain and sustain employment.  To learn more, visit www.cafereconcile.org.

Beer Menu 2021

Meet Mynique: Alumni to Employee

“I wouldn’t trade my job for anything, and I know for a fact I want to go to college next year.”

Hi, my name is Mynique Williams. I’m a 2019 Alumna, and I’m now an employee. I work here as a cashier. I came here in 2019, a regular girl who just needed a little help. I wanted a better look at the culinary and hospitality industry. I graduated and then got a great job, a higher paying job, saved up some money, and got my own apartment. Now working here as an employee, I love it. I wouldn’t trade my job for anything. I love working at Café Reconcile. It’s just like a family here.

Mynique started learning new ways to cope with the pandemic. She reads, she paints, and she finds new ways to overcome “that everyday pressure, that everyday stress,” as she puts it. Like her fellow Alumni, Mynique turns to Reconcile for career advice.

Your support makes these conversations possible. You help our program team provide social services and even Mental Wellness sessions like art/music therapy for Alumni to ease their mind. You create opportunities for Reconcile young people to overcome that everyday pressure and focus forward.

You’ll probably see Mynique when you first walk in the door, at the cashier station. Her warm presence is felt by everyone who comes through the building, even when you can’t see her ear-to-ear smile behind her Reconcile mask.

Mynique also has a keen eye for generosity; she appreciates the humble donors and diners who impact today’s Interns and Young Alumni. “We’re always grateful for the donations. When you come to Reconcile, you look around and see the pictures and the students. It gives you more of a feel of what goes on here. It makes you want to give back and be a part of Reconcile. Just a small donation helps us…every day,” she added.

Your donations create field experiences and site visits to inspire young people on their journey. From these experiences, Mynique is now working two jobs, pursuing college, and chasing her dream — a career in healthcare.

We need to make sure Alumni who still find themselves unemployed due to the pandemic, turning to Reconcile for help, have the same opportunities. Will you make a difference for young people like Mynique?

Chef Martha Wiggins – Biography

Martha Wiggins brings a passion for the culinary craft to all her dishes. Growing up in Washington, D.C., Wiggins started in the industry at local deli Pumpernickels at 15 years old. Here she found her passion for professional cooking. At age 20, she moved to New Bedford, Massachusetts and attended a culinary arts program while also advancing her culinary experience in several fine-dining establishments.

In 2010, Wiggins came to New Orleans and joined the staff of Sylvain as the sous chef to executive chef Alex Harrell. In October 2014, Wiggins took over as executive chef at Sylvain. As executive chef at Sylvain, her modern gastropub fare landed her on The Times-Picayune’s list of Chefs to Watch 2015, Gambit’s 2015 Emerging Chefs list, and her holiday cocktail snacks were featured on the cover of Food & Wine’s December 2015 issue. Her work at Sylvain garnered attention from the James Beard Foundation. In 2017, Wiggins was a semifinalist for the Rising Star Award; in 2018, she was among the semifinalists for Best Chef South.

In early 2018, Wiggins left Sylvain and joined the opening team at The Elysian Bar at the new Hotel Peter & Paul, ranked number five among Bon Appetit’s 10 Best New Restaurants in 2019.

Today, Wiggins joins Café Reconcile as Executive Chef to pursue not only her culinary passion but desire to mentor and train young people and prepare them for the rigor of a competitive hospitality industry.

As Executive Chef, Wiggins will lead the transformation of the Reconcile kitchen, creating the best possible environment for teaching, learning, and personal growth for Reconcile Interns and Alumni. Moreover, she will transform the Café Reconcile culinary experience, reimagine the philosophy behind the café menu and dining experience while preserving its traditional New Orleans fare, and establish Café Reconcile as one of New Orleans’ most recognized eateries.

In concert with Café Reconcile’s commitment to equity and inclusion, Wiggins is dedicated to initiatives that bring attention to and eliminate inequities in the restaurant industry. She aims to affect change and create more equitable work environments that respect and reward the talents and contributions of all workers within a creative, diverse, and dynamic industry.

“At Café Reconcile, we are not only creating a meal and memorable dining experience. We have the ability to change lives by supporting young people who are chasing their dreams,” said Wiggins. “I’m inspired to craft a culture that empowers Interns and Alumni to acquire the skills that will set them on the path to a career. But equally important is the opportunity for Reconcile to set the example, standard, and expectation for a hospitality industry culture for our Interns and Alumni that values and respects all, no matter the position someone holds.”

Meet Martha Wiggins, Reconcile Exec. Chef (Photos)

On Saturday, Feb. 27, Reconcile New Orleans officially celebrated its new Executive Chef, Chef Martha Wiggins. Of course, the roll-out event was held with limited capacity in order to follow city guidelines. A select group of past and present board members and supporters, a small group of media affiliates, and limited staff were invited to meet Chef Martha, hear her vision, and see her talents all while tasting some of her delicious dishes. Read Full Bio on Chef Wiggins!