A nonprofit organization serves up frozen treats while fostering a work ethic for teens.
Wed Aug 1 2007
Photo: Beth Levendis
Photo: Beth Levendis
And you thought Ben & Jerry’s was doing good works. There’s an ice cream emporium based closer to home that claims to change lives “one scoop at a time.” Corny slogan aside, Alphabet Scoop, an East Village shop, is doing impressive outreach work.The brainchild of he faith-based Father’s Heart Ministries, Alphabet Scoop hires local at-risk teens to work behind the counter serving ice cream. (The shop is open April through December, and during the academic year it does business only during after-school hours.) Originally conceived in 2003 to provide work experience for adults struggling with drug addiction, the program changed its focus two years ago to aiding young people. Now, under the supervision of volunteer mentors, teens ages 14 to 17 are trained to use the register and deal with customers, and are taught about being punctual and saving money.
“These kids can tip in either direction,” says Carol Vedral, executive director of the Ministries, which also runs a soup kitchen, an after-school program and job readiness classes funded in part by profits from Alphabet Scoop. “We’re hoping to tip them in a successful direction.”
The program is in demand. Some kids are so eager to work there that they volunteer until they reach 14, the legal age of employment; Benny, now 15, served free of charge for three months. Since donning the Alphabet Scoop apron, he has set aside $20 from each paycheck.
All of Alphabet Scoop’s 16 flavors—including the popular Coconut Pineapple and Dulce de Leche varieties—are homemade by Vedral’s son-in-law. And though many ice cream shop employees say they get sick of the sweet stuff, you don’t hear such complaints from this crowd. “I love ice cream,” says 16-year-old staffer Jackie. “And my parents are happy because I get my own paycheck and I don’t have to bug them for money.”
543 E 11th St at Ave B (212-982-1422, fathersheartnyc.com).