Building community, skills, and friendships.
During the summer of 2013, middle school girls affiliated with the Boys & Girls Club met at First Congregational United Church of Christ. Throughout the summer, the church staff and the girls got to know each other, and we brainstormed how we could continue to strengthen our relationship during the school year. We considered several ideas, then agreed to get together occasionally for an afternoon of cooking. From there, the girls came up with a vision for serving others, researching recipes, learning new skills, working together, and having fun. Café 361 was born!
Once a month, 16 middle school girls from the Cedar Rapids area, under the leadership of our committee members, research, prepare, cook, and serve between 50 and 100 of our guests at First Congregational Church in the Wellington Heights Neighborhood.
Goals & Objectives
At Café 361, our girls learn the actual process of meal preparation (cooking, table setting, serving, and clean-up), but that’s not the only thing Café 361 is about. The girls are learning leadership skills that will last a lifetime, including self-confidence, communication skills, problem solving, and more.
Our objectives are:
- Creating a sense of belonging, building confidence and self-esteem
- Laying the foundation for future growth and development
- Using cooking to teach life skills
- Having access to positive role models
- Volunteering and learning about opportunities within the surrounding communities
Each year, our girls take an overnight trip to a surrounding city to volunteer, learn about areas outside of Cedar Rapids, and grow as a team.
- In 2014, we toured Omaha and helped prepare and serve lunch to hundreds of people at the Open Door Mission.
- In 2015, we toured Dubuque and helped prepare and serve dinner for the homeless and needy at St. Lukes United Methodist Church.
- In 2016, we held a bake sale fundraiser for the family of a classmate who was shot in the Wellington Heights neighborhood.
- In 2017, we packed meals for Feed My Starving Children.
- In 2018, we made meals for families with children at the Ronald McDonald house.
Check out other highlights from trips and dinners in our photo gallery!
The Golden Spoon Awards
Our girls give 100% at every dinner, but there are always a few of them who go above and beyond to make sure our guests have a fabulous time. Each month, these go-getters are awarded with our most coveted prize, The Golden Spoon!