On March 2nd, the Resonance Center for Women’s Take 2 Café opened in downtown Tulsa, a crowning achievement not only for Resonance but also for the Junior League of Tulsa (JLT). “The process of making this vision a reality has been a long road but is finally coming into fruition,” Ann Tran, JLT’s Resonance Social Venture Committee Chair, says.
JLT has been a community partner to Resonance for more than 20 years. Resonance provides intervention, prevention, and support services for women seeking self-sufficiency. Founded in 1977 as a resource center for women, Resonance has since expanded its scope of services to become a gender-specific, dually accredited outpatient substance and alcohol abuse treatment facility. The center’s goal is to break the cycles of chemical addiction from a mother to her children and to provide alternatives to punitive measures for female substance abusers.
League members have been working with Resonance’s Choosing to Change program at the Turley Residential Center, teaching a curriculum focused on developing soft skills, learning healthy hobbies, and promoting self-esteem. In 2013, to supplement its work with Resonance, JLT created a taskforce charged with researching and developing a proposal for a possible business project that would help transition women from the justice system back into the community. This developed into JLT’s Resonance Social Venture Committee, which researched and developed a self-sustaining business as a means to provide job readiness skills and employment options for the women in the Resonance program.
In 2015, Resonance took the Social Venture Committee’s recommendations and decided to open a café called Take 2 in downtown Tulsa. Some Choosing to Change graduates will work there, and a few will have the opportunity to live in a loft above the café.
With the opening of the café, the Social Venture Committee, comprised of nine JLT members, evolved into a soft skills training program to help prepare the women who will work either at the café or elsewhere. Tran states, “Technically, this is year one for our training committee, so we started with a few soft skills that our advisors at Resonance felt were the keys to a successful workforce reentry, and we created a mentorship and training program based around those skills sets with the mantra that people learn when you lead by example.”
The Choosing to Change program runs an eight-week “Cohort” session for soft skills development, and about 12 women participate in each cohort. Tran estimates they will reach approximately 240 women over the course of the 2015–2016 League year.
“We have received great feedback from the women,” Tran continues. “One client made a comment that in all the years she’s been incarcerated, she’s never had anyone teach her these basic life skills that often come as second nature to many of us, and she feels that if she had these skills so many years ago, she would not be sitting where she was today. … The impact we make can be measured immediately, not by statistics or the metrics by which we try to measure success over the lifetime of the program, but by the purpose our committee draws from this experience personally.”
Take 2: A Resonance Café is located in downtown Tulsa at 309 South Main Street. Its hours are Monday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The number to call for takeout orders is 918-861-4555.