Kyle'cia and Jihad share a laugh outside their intern site, Cafe Red.
Cafe Red has quickly become a staff favorite and a perfect excuse to visit our interns while drinking a deliciously crafted latte. It's a quaint and cozy coffee shop located on MLK Way Jr. S. near the Othello light rail station. The convenient service it provides for rail riders is exceptional — its coffee and welcoming vibes are even better.
Two of our Doorways interns, Kyle'cia and Jihad, spent six weeks this summer working at Cafe Red as customer service and food service support staff. Throughout the summer, our Doorways Program Manager, Vannra Uok, kept hearing how much Jihad loved being in the kitchen. And when we visited in July, that's exactly where we found him.
“These are called Haley's Comets,” Jihad told me as he prepped the ingredients. Vannra joked, “They should start calling them Jihad's Comets, he loves making them so much.”
“There's a good vibe here,” Jihad shares.
Jihad's second job is at Taco Time, where he says he also enjoys being in the kitchen. “But this job is more chill. There's a good vibe here,” he shares as he preps the small energy packed granola “comets.” He is about to be a senior at Rainier Beach High School, and is thinking more about where he wants to land when he graduates.
“I'm hoping to go to college next year, and would love to leave and get a feel for other places. Southern Cali weather would be nice,” Jihad says with a glint in his eyes. “I want to study engineering, but more hands-on engineering versus computer engineering. When I was younger I would take my toys apart and put them back together. I want to build things with my hands.”
“I want to study engineering…When I was younger I would take my toys apart and put them back together. I want to build things with my hands.”
Working for Cafe Red was Jihad's first internship experience with YouthForce, and he already knows a little bit more about what he values in a work culture. “It's important to me that I have a boss that is flexible. Haley and Jesiah were cool like that.”
Jihad doesn't know what his future looks like. “What's my dream job? That's something to think about.” But he knows what he likes and every day is taking steps to pursue that. In the meantime, he'll be going to school and applying to colleges, and he'll continue to work at Taco Time and keep his eye out for the next opportunity.
Kyle'cia was not the biggest fan of working in the kitchen, which worked out well for both her and Jihad. “I liked being in the front helping to make drinks, which was one of my favorite parts of the job. I learned a lot about communicating with people, because not everybody is the same or, at least, comes off the same.”
Kyle'cia is off to start her degree at South Seattle College in the fall and plans to study Music. “I want to get an Associate of Arts degree.” Kyle'cia explains that she started singing when she was young but got more involved in sports as she grew up.
More recently, Kyle'cia started to rediscover her love for music and joined a group called Seattle JazzEd, which influenced her decision to study Music. “I've thought about teaching music if I couldn't do some type of performing art.”
“I've thought about teaching music if I couldn't do some type of performing art.”
“The good thing about singing is you meet new people and are pushed to do new things.” This past year, Kyle'cia was asked to be a featured student at Seattle JazzEd's Annual Fundraising Gala, where she performed a jazzy rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
“I was super nervous, but it went well,” Kyle'cia shares, with obvious pride in her voice.
As we finished up our interview, Kyle'cia asked if I could send her the photos from our last visit to Cafe Red. “I want to post a photo of me and Jihad, because today is Jihad's birthday.” This isn't the first time that our interns have walked away from their experience with a new friend, and as a staff, we know it won't be the last.