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:


  • 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


  • 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?

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!

Equity in the Hospitality Industry – Response

Reconcile has been in contact with James and Yasmin Washington and are working with them to be agents of change. As a workforce training non-profit that connects predominantly young Black people to employment in hospitality, Reconcile knows that negative business practices, stereotyping people of color — both as guests and employees — are deeply embedded within the industry.

For the past several months, Reconcile has worked with Desi Vega, receiving donations of food product to support our operation. Desi Vega is not one of our Employment Partners, however, we are pleased that they have said they are turning this experience into actions of change for both their guests and employees, and hope that it inspires other establishments to do the same.

A big part of Reconcile’s mission is ensuring equitable environments – both by modeling it in our own practices and by being selective in who we choose as employment partners for our young people. We use the values of empathy, respect, compassion, and support as our guiding principles. We will continue to work towards creating more equitable environments for all our stakeholders, be those guests, program participants, or staff. Our gratitude goes out to the Washingtons for their expression of support.

Meet Deja’Nae

You Give Hope to Alumni Like Deja’Nae.

Reconcile Alumni continue to chase their dreams in 2021, and it takes their courage and your support to share their stories.

Your donation improves the work of our Employment Partnerships team, creating opportunities that help Deja’Nae and other Alumni connect to work.

Reconcile’s newest employment partner is The Store Poboys on Vets, who hired Deja’Nae as their full-time cashier. She is not only the first person seen by a customer, but she also manages phone calls, the point-of-sale system, UberEATS, DoorDash, and other computer-skilled tasks that require attention to detail.

“Deja has been a wonderful addition to our team,” Chef Reuben Laws, The Store owner, said. “Her singing and dancing in the kitchen creates smiles to go along with her superb restaurant skills.”

then and now…

Our doors are open as we continue to connect young people to internships and jobs in this time of immense need.

Once Reconcile Interns are matched with internships/employment, they and their employers work with Reconcile’s Education and Employment Manager who provides 12 months of follow-up support to help Interns and employment partners successfully manage the transition.

Your generosity provides training and support for individuals to get a job that can lead to a long-term career. Job stability can be transformative for young people and their families — together, we can strengthen New Orleans families and our community.

Your donations create field experiences and site visits to inspire young people on their journey. Deja’Nae had these experiences; and we need to make sure Alumni who find themselves unemployed due to the pandemic, turning to Reconcile for help, have the same opportunities.

Thanks to you, we are fulfilling the most important purpose of Reconcile. That’s not only ensuring our young people are employable but, more importantly, ensuring the employers are giving our Interns the best chance to succeed and grow.

Will you create a new opportunity today?

2021 Mardi Gras Catering Menu