CODY — Cody’s Pardners Café is unlike any other cafe in town. What’s more, it’s unlike any other cafe in the state. Many of our staff are adults with disabilities.
Colleen Vanaman, 40, is just one of nine adults with disabilities known as Partners who work at the Park County Library café.
“This shows what we can do in our communities. Adults with disabilities can work in our communities,” Vanaman said Wednesday.
The afternoon was another busy lunch rush for Pardner as he completed the tasks of taking orders, working in the kitchen, delivering food to customers and cleaning tables. .
“Our cafe is the best. The best service, the best food. The best mentor, the boss,” said Jana Conklin, 49, another Pardner.
The cafe is meant to provide a social and professional experience for Mr. and Mrs. Pardner, and the mind behind it is Kathy Liscombe. Her inspiration came from her adult son Colin, who has a disability, and similar programs in Texas.
“My son is 22 now, and when he was 18 or 19, I started thinking seriously, ‘What will my son do when he finishes school?
So, with the help of supporters and parents like herself, she founded Cody Pardners, a non-profit organization that aims to improve the quality of life for adults with disabilities. The cafe is their first big undertaking, but more work is in the works. They want to open another space focused on helping small businesses with tasks like labeling, stamping, filing and shredding.
“I want people to understand that everyone has value. Everyone has something to offer and giving people the opportunity to work is very important,” said Liscum. .
Mr. and Mrs. Purdner said what they love about their job is the friends they make, who are more like family than colleagues.
Vanaman said he never thought an opportunity like the café would come along, but he’s grateful it did.
“I like going to work. Anything that lets me get out of the house so I don’t get lazy is a godsend,” she said.
Liscum said it’s more than just good food and a fun atmosphere. Mr. and Mrs. Purdner have come a long way in their 11 months of service.
“Well, I hear from his parents that he wants to jump out of bed right now. I wanted to go,” said Liscum.