Coffee Caravan employee, Alex, making a coffee. CONTRIBUTED

Warren County coffee truck’s mission: Give special needs adults job skills

In addition to hot and iced coffees, teas, and smoothies, a food truck in Lebanon serves up employment training for adults with special needs.

Coffee Caravan was started by a trio including Tony Mitchell, president of Residential Community Care in Lebanon, who runs programs such as Skidz Reimagined, which is a vocational habilitation program that is centered around woodworking, as well as a day center for special needs adults, and in-home care.

Mitchell teamed up with Lebanon couple Mark and Jodi Titmas to create the food truck.

“We wanted to start Coffee Caravan, in addition to Skidz, so that our individuals could have a job that is more customer-based,” said Jodi Titmas.

Mitchell said a lot of people take for granted that individuals with special needs work a lot in the community, but they’re not always taught the proper social and communication skills needed to keep the job.

“Their ability to communicate effectively with a coworker, a customer, a supervisor, is where they struggle,” Mitchell said. “We utilize programs like Coffee Caravan and Skidz, our day program, to be able to teach them those social communication skills needed so they can not only get a job in the community, but they can maintain that job.”

“For example, watching our employee, Alex, push limits, like our individuals are going to do, and then figuring out where we need to bring him back to use that as a teaching moment, is the fun part of the job.,” said Mitchell.

Jodi Titmas is a teacher by trade, Mitchell said, and knows how to help their employees balance the opportunity to be independent in social communication, while teaching them how best to do it.

Titmas said that she often lays in bed at night worrying about what her students will do after high school or what opportunities they will have. That is where a lot of this idea came from, she said.

“Our mission is to provide employment for these adults with special needs. Our employees are capable, giving and successful adults in our community. We just want to provide them with employability skills and give them the opportunity to share their skills with everyone,” said Titmas.

When Alex, a Coffee Caravan employee, was asked what the best part of his job is, he replied: “The coffee.”

Coffee Caravan is open from 7:15 a.m. to 12 p.m. Monday-Friday. They are located at 520 Justice Dr. in Lebanon on Wednesdays and 706 Deerfield Dr. the rest of the week.

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