Harmony Café – Fox Valley, operated by Goodwill Industries North Central Wisconsin
My Organization: Harmony Café is a coffeehouse open seven days a week, with locations in Appleton and Green Bay, Wis. In addition to their food and drink offerings, the two cafes offer more than 40 innovative programs each week, such as poetry readings, open microphone nights, a wide variety of support groups, work experience programs, DJ and live music, arts and cultural programs, and diversity programs. Harmony Café served more than 6,000 program participants in 2009, many of whom were youth.
My Job: Jesse Heffernan’s work is focused on oversight and coordination of the programs at the Appleton location. One special area of focus has been his coordination of the Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender (GLBT) Partnership, one of Harmony Café’s programs. The GLBT Partnership is a youth leadership development and support group for teens ages 14 to 18 who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or questioning. In existence since 1997, this program typically serves from eight to 30 youths per week, and more than 200 youths per year.
How I Got Here: Heffernan has been a leader at the state and local level in alcohol and other drug abuse recovery work. He also served for one year as an AmeriCorps volunteer at the Fox Valley Boys & Girls Club, where he worked with diverse populations such as homeless and runaway youth and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth.
The Best Part of the Job: “The best part of my job is that I am personally and professionally challenged to learn how to empower, educate and support youth and all community members,” Heffernan said.
The Worst Part of the Job: Data entry.
A memorable moment: “Every time a youth says they were given the tools and support from [this] group to face daily adversity,” he said.