Photo caption: Workers finalize the multi-level exterior deck at MAP.
At Rich's what we do comes down to food. That's why a partnership with Massachusetts Avenue Project (MAP) was a straightforward decision when they needed support for a new urban farmhouse that would serve as an education hub for teens in Buffalo. Rich's is sponsoring a commercial grade kitchen at the new MAP headquarters, opening in Fall 2018. What MAP accomplishes with teens goes far beyond the farmhouse as they focus in on communication skills, develop teens into local leaders, and inspire future generations to participate in the food production chain.
Neena, MAP alumni, current Syracuse University student and now an educator for the organization, had a different career path in mind before her involvement with Massachusetts Avenue Project. "I was going to be a physical therapist. But after learning about how vast the food system is and how something like an urban farmhouse can make a complex system so seamless, I switched my major to Food Studies," says Neena. MAP provided an opportunity for Neena to learn about how complicated the food system is and shined a light on the food deserts that exist right here in the West Side.
But not all teens are looking to major in Food Studies or even pursue a career in a food-related industry. MAP teaches them confidence through personal interactions and selling at their Mobile Market and prepares them to become a leader in whatever field they choose. "A large part of MAP is being a career development program," says Neena. "Some kids that come to the program haven't found their voice yet or don't think they can make a difference because they are just a kid. We throw that idea out of the window. Learning they can make a difference is huge and catapults them into the workforce because they know their actions can better their own lives and our community."
MAP also has the unique position to put teens in front of a diverse audience that teaches them to think on their feet and problem solve. "At the Mobile Market, I learned how to communicate with people who speak a different language than me. Something we have in common is that we all have to eat. Food breaks down those barriers for us that are typically up," says Neena. Daily tribulations also face the teens at the Mobile Market, from inevitable weather issues to learning the art of customer service, they are encouraged to roll with the punches and think on their feet. An opportunity that most of the MAP alumni are thankful they have had.
Rich Associates can experience the work of Massachusetts Avenue Project themselves by visiting the Mobile Market or checking out their brand-new urban farmhouse located at 387 Massachusetts Avenue.
Learn more at www.mass-ave.org or find out to get involved by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.