By Charles Cyrill, NADA, Director of Media & Public Relations
Over the past several years, the National Automobile Dealers Association has supported local organizations in cities that host its annual convention and expo—whether it’s Las Vegas, New Orleans or San Francisco.
This past January, ahead of the NADA convention which returned to New Orleans for the 12th time since 1973, the NADA Foundation donated $50,000 to Emeril Lagasse Foundation, which supports Café Reconcile.
“It changed my life and changes other lives,” said Irvian Bakare, a 2011 graduate of Café Reconcile, which offers life skills and job training programs to 16- to 22-year-olds facing generational poverty, violence and neglect in the New Orleans area.
“I was a young adult not really understanding where I wanted to go in life. So when I went there, they showed me where I wanted to go,” added Bakare, who spoke the event on January 25. “Some kids are lost and [Café Reconcile] helps them find their way.”
Bakare currently works fulltime as a catering cook and mentor at Café Reconcile and hopes to open her own restaurant in the future.
“Our goal was really to help the youth, not only of New Orleans but the Gulf Coast and now its reached out to the country,” said Chef Emeril Lagasse, chairman and founder of the Emeril Lagasse Foundation, in remarks at the event. “Our relationship with [NADA] can get stronger and stronger throughout the years, and I can’t thank you enough.”
Located in the severely distressed Central City neighborhood of New Orleans, Café Reconcile serves as the primary training ground for students seeking to acquire skills in the food service industry. It is also a destination lunch spot.
“The Café Reconcile program fits right in with what the NADA Foundation believes,” said Annette Sykora, chairman of the NADA Foundation and a new-car dealer in Texas. “They are changing lives and building hope for these kids.”
For more information about how to get involved with the NADA Foundation, visit www.nada.org/foundation or call 703.821.7102.