David W. Welker, Special Agent in Charge of the New Orleans Division of the FBI, announced that Sister Mary Lou Specha is the recipient of the New Orleans 2010 FBI Director's Community Leadership Award (DCLA). Sister Mary Lou Specha, PBVM, Executive Director of Café Reconcile, is being recognized for her outstanding efforts to reform at-risk youths in the
central city area. New Orleans
Café Reconcile is a nonprofit organization committed to interrupting the cycle of generational poverty, violence, and neglect in the
area. Their dedicated staff provides innovative life skills and job training program which assists young people from severely at-risk communities who desire to make a positive change in their lives. Reconcile’s students arrive facing a vast array of challenges, from extreme poverty and educational challenges to homelessness, violence, and participation in the juvenile justice system. Nonetheless, these young people possess a deep desire to break the cycle and become productive, contributing members of society. To date, Café Reconcile has successfully graduated more than 500 youths. These students leave the nine-week program with basic life skills, interpersonal skills, and work skills, enabling and empowering them to successfully enter the workforce. New Orleans
In September 2000, Café Reconcile opened its doors in the severely distressed Central City neighborhood of
in an effort to establish a safe and supportive place where at-risk youth would have an opportunity to learn the skills necessary to become productive individuals. The visionaries wanted to establish a program that would give young people between the ages of 16 and 22 the skills and self-discipline necessary for employment. The training these young people receive in culinary arts is always in demand in New Orleans , where tourism is a main source of income. New Orleans
Seventy percent of the students who enter the Café Reconcile program graduate. Following graduation, Café Reconcile follows each student’s progress for four months and has found that 60 percent work the entire time once they leave. This is a remarkable success rate considering that before coming to Cafe Reconcile, these youths were virtually unemployable.
For her outstanding accomplishments to reform at-risk youth in