Terrebonne ARC, the organization that provides job training and other educational opportunities to intellectually challenged members of the community, debuted its newest project in late-November with the opening of Cajun Confections, a sweet shop that administrators say will provide sweet results for clients and the public at large.
“It is just one more business where we can showcase the abilities of the people we serve, where the community can come in, enjoy a nice refreshment, purchase products by individuals we serve and staff who work with them, who train them to do the things they do,” said TARC Executive Director Mary Lynn Bisland.
The shop at 158 Enterprise Drive features candies, cookies, tarts and pies that can be eaten on premises, along with a variety of soft drinks, coffee and tea. When Bisland arrived at the sweet shop at 9 a.m. on their grand opening day, a long line of people had already queued.
Cajun Confections is part of an overall push by TARC that began 11 years ago, to aid in pushing for employment within the community at large of people the organization trains.
“We set a deadline for ourselves to get everyone out working in the community, whether it is an independent job from someone other than TARC or through a TARC business,” Bisland said.
The TARC formula does not limit potential workers to specialties such as those acquired from working at Cajun Confections or other TARC businesses, Bisland said.
“Where we train them doing job skills, it is not just to be a baker or a candy maker,” Bisland said. “There comes an understanding that you go to work every day, you get a paycheck at the end of the work period and there are jobs to be done.”
Cajun Confections was already operating at the TARC campus in east Houma, where its popular restaurant is still in service. A decision was made to move the confection shop to west Houma in order to gain higher visibility and interaction.
On the grand opening date, patrons waited in line in large numbers to enjoy the delicious treats available on the menu.
“It’s all delicious,” said Houma native Rose Theriot.
“You can’t get enough,” joked fellow Houma native Matthew Collins, who was next to Rose in line.
TARC serves about 250 people; forty of them are employed at four gift shops located throughout Terrebonne Parish. Bisland said there are other plans underway to streamline and accommodate public interest in TARC offerings.
“Our next project will be a new restaurant, still on our campus but on Moffet Road,” she said. •