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UCNECT students brew up coffee, life skills and fundraising for the program

Utica Center Network for Employment and Community Transition (UCNECT) students and staff are greeted with awakening scents of coffee and hot chocolate every Tuesday and Friday morning thanks to the UCNECT Coffee Café.

“We have coffee, iced coffee, hot chocolate, bagels and smoothies in the spring,” UCNECT teacher, Mackenzie Lupo said.

“It makes me feel really good to start the morning at the Coffee Café,” UCNECT student and Coffee Café volunteer Tai’Liyah Yancy said.

“My favorite thing about working at the Coffee Café is that I get to help out the teachers and all the UCNECT students who came to the Café – it just feels good to help out,” Yancy added.

The Coffee Café is run by over 10 UCNECT student volunteers who setup the Café the day before, work the Café and then clean up the Café.

“This is a life skill and job training opportunity because for some of our students something as simple as pouring is a skill for them to learn,” Lupo explained.

Students in the UCNECT program are ages 18-26 and work job sites during the week, the Coffee Café helps fundraise for the UCNECT program to go out to eat, go on field trips and other activities.

“We’re big into community-based instruction, we try not to be in the building as much as we can,” Lupo said. “Everything we do we try to have a real-world connection.”