Tennessee School for the Blind students learn job skills at local cafe and catering company

Donelson Cafe and Catering
Posted at 5:14 PM, Nov 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-18 21:52:00-05

DONELSON, Tenn. (WTVF) — A local cafe and catering company is helping Tennessee School for the Blind students learn job skills.

At Donelson Cafe and Catering, Haddan Lewallen is a hamburger connoisseur. His precise patties are exactly 4 ounces, thin in the middle, and thick on the edges. Lewallen has been taught how to take orders too through a work-based learning program at Tennessee School for the Blind.

"Some people say visually impaired people can’t work, visually impaired people can work," Lewan said. "We might prove some people wrong."

In a booming city, finding workers in the hospitality industry can be challenging. Owners Mark Dickerson and Kevin Miehlke love having students who can help them.

"When Kevin works with him you can see him, he just lights up," Dickerson said.

Recently, a former student used his experience at Donelson Cafe and Catering to get a job in a cafeteria.

"His name is Cody and he came in and he said 'I need to tell you guys something,' and he had a girlfriend so we figured it was something about the girlfriend, well it wasn’t." Dickerson said. "He had been to MTSU, and had been interviewed, and he got the job! Well Kevin's a little bit tougher, and I’m the crier, so it was just like our son had gotten a job, and we cried."

The cafe owners hope the same will happen for Lewallen and his classmates.

Metro students with disabilities also work at Donelson Cafe and Catering. They're open for lunch Monday through Friday in the Fifty Forward building on Donelson Pike.