Shakara’s Story

Shakara's Story

Facing the risk of homelessness once again and living in an emergency housing unit and youth homelessness prevention center, Shakara was referred to For Change Co’s Pathways For Change program to help her gain experience in the hospitality industry.

"I had been unemployed for a long period of time. My age, lack of education and lack of experience made job hunting next to impossible. My two years [at my supported accommodation] was quickly coming to a close, and with no job and next to no savings I was once again at risk of homelessness"

Shakara officially started her traineeship at For Change Cafe, Brunswick in May 2023 with a simple goal: to secure employment for food and shelter.

However, with each passing shift, the chaos of the trade became less daunting. She began mastering latte art and working seamlessly without constant thought.

“Improvement of that kind only happens when you’re given the space and support to make mistakes”

Through Pathways for Change, Shakara learned the intricacies of café operations, from opening and closing procedures to dialing in, grinder settings, and perfecting every shot. She mastered the art of steaming various types of milk, handling the POS system, delivering exceptional customer service, maintaining café hygiene standards, baking, and more. These skills weren’t just limited to a For Change Cafe; they were transferable to any entry level employment setting.

“After working at For Change I now feel immensely more comfortable talking to people, colleagues and customers alike. I have gained priceless knowledge and values that I can take into any hospitality environment. Most notably I’ve seen a huge improvement in my initiative and work ethic”

Shakara and her new work colleague

Shakara graduated from Pathways for Change in November 2023. Since then, she has secured employment with Open Shift partner Park Hyatt, where she now works in the food and beverage department. In her new role, Shakara continues to develop her skills, extending her workdays and effectively balancing work, study, and personal life. Because of this, she has gained the economic independence and self-confidence to be able to make the move from transitional housing to a shared rental property.

“Throughout her time in our program, Shakara displayed a strong commitment to professionalism and a drive to improve her skills. She regularly took opportunities to take on greater responsibility on shift.”

Through Open Shift partnerships like the one with Park Hyatt, For Change Co can support trainees in attaining long-term, meaningful, and stable employment, significantly reducing their risk of homelessness.

Looking ahead, Shakara aims to pursue a business degree and potentially study psychology. She dreams of owning and operating her own café while remaining involved in local theater.