By Marcus Uhe
The L’Arte Central Social Enterprise Café and Florist has won the Local Business of the Year award at the Cranbourne Chamber of Commerce ‘Love Your Local’ Business Awards on Thursday 24 March.
The award recognises a local organisation that has demonstrated a large involvement in the community and a great understanding and strength of the local small business market and their industry.
L’Arte Central is a non-for-profit café, florist and art space that provides employment, training and participation opportunities to vulnerable and at risk youth.
During the pandemic L’Arte made 20,000 chef-prepared meals, which were distributed by local charity groups including We Care Community Services in Lynbrook and local churches to families in the area who were in need.
They also delivered flowers, grazing boxes and packaged meals to aged care and retirement villages during lockdowns, and in late 2021 L’Arte partnered with ‘Backpacks for a bright future’, helping to give 157 backpacks, drink bottles and lunch boxes to vulnerable kids ahead of the new school year.
Director of L’Arte, Anthony Cheeseman said he was pleasantly surprised to take-out the award.
“We love what we do and I think that when you love what you do, getting recognised by peers is great, because you don’t do it for the recognition,” Mr Cheeseman said. “It’s great to be recognised by your peers in a community that we love.
“We were there during Covid-19 and a lot of these guys used to come in. We’re like a light for the community and they know that they can come to us and being recognised by people who have seen that was surprising little bit because (to us), you just do your job.”
Since it was founded in October 2019, L’Arte has hired 18 young people who have suffered from mental and physical health challenges.
Mr Cheeseman, who had experienced trauma and mental health challenges in his family prior to establishing L’Arte, said that this business concept was the result of varied experiences and life lessons.
“I just wanted to help people in my life that feel they would have suicided. It took me 20-30 years as a journey to find out what I wanted to do.
“We don’t make coffee to employ people, we employ people to make coffee.
“We exist for people and the idea was we give young people that have physical and mental health challenges, participation and training opportunities.
“To see them and their parents grow and change is why we do what we do.
As part of their employment, staff at L’Arte gain vital hospitality qualifications, allowing them to seek further employment opportunities in the future and add to their resume, where their health battles may have created ‘gaps’, which could be detrimental when applying for jobs.
“The Government sometimes judge [mental health recovery] on getting a job, so you get a lot of job networks all about making sure you get a job. I was all about getting them out of bed, where they’ve been in their house for 10 years.
“If I can get them out of bed and into my café, to me, that’s step one.
L’Arte Central Social Enterprise Café and Florist is located at 2/65 Berwick-Cranbourne Rd, Cranbourne East.
To learn more about L’Arte, go to lartecentral.org.au/
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