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Boys & Girls Club adds twist on workforce development with new ice cream shop

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47) -

The Boys & Girls Club of Rochester is leaving their mark in downtown with a sweet addition of The Chocolate Twist ice cream parlor. The non-profit aims to teach area youth job skills that help them reach their full potential. Six teenage club members are on staff and welcomed their first customers during the soft opening Wednesday.

"It's really fun being with my co-workers and seeing the looks on people's faces when they see this place, and their looks on their faces when they try the ice cream, that's whats been the greatest so far," said Tierra Felder, an employee.

The excitement started before Felder clocked-in when she was counting down the minutes at school.

"The last few minutes of my last hour, I was ready to jump up, change, and get here as fast as I possibly could," said Felder. 

The enthusiastic teen staff is taking this opportunity to add skills they acquire to their resumes.

Maura Henn, Manager of The Chocolate Twist said the Boys & Girls Club plan to expand professional development lessons from the Matter Career Launch 
—a program that prepares teens for the nation's workforce—to she ice cream parlor. 

"Primarily, they'll be learning customer service skills, money handling, running a register," said Henn.

This new endeavor will have the teens doing everything from accounting, marketing, and product development. 

"That's a lot that you're learning at kinda a young age, and we're gonna help them put that onto a resume so that they can go out and get an even better job and have us as a great reference," said Henn.

Felder says working in food service comes with flavorful life lessons and that her parents support her initiative.

"Getting to know different customers, and how to treat them in different ways, and having more respect for those people when you go to certain jobs."

The genesis of the ice cream shop began over a year ago when the Boys & Girls Club board members discussed ways to prepare its youth for real-world experiences while creating an additional revenue stream for the club.  Much of the fundraising for the shop came from an impressive campaign, which raised nearly $30,000 to open the shop in the Historic Paines building downtown. 

Henn says after expenses, the profits from desserts go right back to the club's programming.
A grand opening and ribbon cutting will take place on March 7th. 

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