have a confession to make, (alright, I most likely have a bunch of those) but
this one has to do with a slight obsession, (ok, ok, I have a few of those too
but what I am trying to get at is, ICE CREAM! "Was it for this my life I
sought?" I adore good ice cream. Ohhh
memories of that little shop
in Berlin off the lime-lined street, every day they had new flavors and when it
ran it out it was gone for who knew how long? I also adore coconut ice cream at
Thai restaurants and green tea ice cream at sushi bars. But mostly, I have a pretty
huge weakness for Ben & Jerry's pints of bliss.
you can imagine my excitement when I was cruising with some buddies south on Woodward
and I saw it, the tell tale no face cow on green grass with white fluffy clouds
suspended in a blue sky on a little sign in the window no larger than 16 x 20,
announcing a new Ben
& Jerry's Scoop Shop coming soon to the Compuware Headquarters Building.
I was very excited as I had never been to a Ben & Jerry's
Scoop Shop and could only fantasize about all the delicious opportunities awaiting
me. Now I must admit I have not tried all their flavors - who can keep up anyways?
I do love to try new ones all the time, but I have a few favorites. 'Karamel
Sutra' and yes I tried it because of the name, but it is so good, dare I say
'une petit mort'! Then there is the flavor I always keep in my stash;
Now my favorite way to eat a pint is to
share, well sort of
pick a pint, ok, sometimes two, get a big bread knife
and cut the pint in half! Besides, who wants to wait for the pint to make its
way back? I know I can bogart a pint. Or I like to go to my favorite neighborhood
bar order a Kahlua & coke with no ice, I then scoop a few dollops of what
ever flavor I have selected that night, ('Chunky Monkey' is a great choice)
and eat away at the bar, it is as good as nectar.
back to the Scoop Shop, being the freak I am I looked into the store's much anticipated
arrival and found it was to open before the big baseball game in June. I of course
went right to website and signed up to be a 'Chunk Spelunker' for events going
on in my area: Detroit, Michigan. I could not believe this was about to be an
addition to my city. I even found excuses to drive by; on my way to work which
was out of the way, took breaks at work to run 'errands', and drove by on my days
off. It was a longing, but it was not open for the big game, so I waited having
faith that now being I was an official 'Chunk Spelunker' I would get the email
telling me of the opening, well it never came.
one night as I was enjoying music of Audra
Kubat on Campus Martius, I saw a woman walk past me with a small cup in
her hand. I was so excited I grabbed my friend's hand and dragged him practically
running north on Woodward to the storefront. Ohh, I was so excited I could have
peed! The line was long but it was not a problem because by time I got to the
counter I was still not sure what flavor or flavors I wanted to select. Therefore
in order to make the correct choice I had to sample at least 5 different flavors,
I could have sampled all night but I didn't want them to make mental note of me
for future sightings and limit my sampling. So I made my selections; one scoop
of the Gobfather and Dublin Mudslide (the only flavor I have ever
not liked, and only because I am not a fan of either Irish Cream Liqueur or coffee).
I have returned many times to the shop, on my way to work,
during breaks, and even on days off. A few days ago, I found myself talking to
one of the managers, Patrice Johnson and I learned that all of the staff are Goodwill
Industries employees and all proceeds go to Goodwill
Industries as part of the Partnership Program for nonprofit organizations.
Together Goodwill and Ben
& Jerry's as part of a community assistance program give training to youth
and young adults that may face barriers to employment. At this shop most of the
employees are at risk teens that live in shelters around the city, like Covenant
for Girls, and foster homes. All the employees are trained in a classroom
setting for up to 8 weeks where they learn customer service, how to be on time,
and basic employment skills. After that they are trained in the Scoop Shop, which
yes means sampling every flavor and memorizing all the ingredients in each of
these flavors, they then learn about Sustainable Agriculture, Global Warming,
Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone, Socially Aligned Sourcing, and Fair Trade,
and you thought this was all about a sugar buzz! Their tour of duty will include
a six month position at Ben and Jerry's working up to 5 days a week with four
hour shifts (state law mandates that
youth have restrictions to the amount of hours worked per week, because they should
dedicate a certain of time to education. ) Upon completion they are then assisted
by Goodwill Industries with job placement somewhere else in the community to apply
the skills that they have learned.
I spoke with 21 year old Michelle Walter, who had just been promoted to
management, as a Shift Leader. I asked Michelle about the training program and
how working at the Scoop Shop would affect her future. She said definitely customer
service, about how important it is to just say 'hi' to people as they enter the
shop to make them feel comfortable and to let them know it is a friendly atmosphere.
Which she believes is a huge part of anything Ben & Jerry, during the grand
opening Jerry showed up and she said he was so laid back - he was even wearing
tennis shoes and casual clothes and was really fun to have around!
now Michelle lives at Covenant House and is in the two year Rights
of Passage Program, which help support and teach her the skills necessary
for any young adult making the transition to adulthood. The program right now
has about 20 people, with the residents living in dorm like situations with two
people per room. The program teaches the importance of education, art of time
management and requires that residents save 70% of there income so that when they
complete the program they have the financial means to help support themselves.
In January Michelle plans to go back to college, she had been
studying nursing but after working at the Scoop Shop she thinks she wants to change
her major to business as she would some day like to own her own business, possibly
cake decorating or wedding planning and yes in Detroit! She hopes she can handle
the new challenge of working and going to school, I bet she can!!
we were talking about her future plans one of her staff came in, who was late
but who had called in to let her bosses know! Her name is Tomea Brown,
17, who has been working at the Scoop Shop since late August. Even though Tomea
lives at home with her parents and is a senior in high school, she is still eligible
to work at the shop. Her last job was as a police cadet and she says she likes
this a lot more than that job!
The shop can at times have up
to 12 employees on staff. Not all of them make it through the program: patience
with the new program, unforeseeable circumstances in life and who knows maybe
some just don't like ice cream. Michelle and Tomea don't seem to mind because
they are happy to be learning skills that they will take with them into future.
Of course I couldn't leave without getting some ice cream
and as usual I couldn't decide so I ask Michelle for a "Hand Packed"
pint to go which I had her add; 1/3-Cherry Garcia and 1/3 Minter Wonderland
and some Caramel Fudge Connection Michelle suggested! As I left
I ask the girls what there favorites are
without a pause Michelle says 'Oatmeal
Cookie Chuck', Tomea is a little more hesitant and comes up with 'Last
Straw' and 'Chocolate Therapy'. "Sounds like the perfect sort
of therapy to me."