WEST MELBOURNE — Betsy Farmer — and her team of administrators and volunteers — are full of promises.
With a groundbreaking on Saturday of the Promise in Brevard Bakery & Cafe, they’re continuing to show those promises aren’t empty but yet another way of assisting local special needs young adults, giving them the opportunity to learn valuable skills that will help them with employment — and life.
The 7,100-square-foot bakery and cafe is scheduled to open next July and will employ at least 10 “Promisers,” the term Farmer — co-founder of Promise Brevard — uses for the people she’s dedicated her life to assisting. The eatery will be in the West Melbourne Community Park, next to the Space Coast Field of Dreams, a sports complex for special-needs athletes. There’s also an apartment complex under construction near Hammock Landings shopping center, a living space on the Promise campus for special need residents.
All combined, Farmer and her supporters hope West Melbourne will serve as a model for the rest of the country.
“Absolutely, positively,” said Farmer, who started Promise in Brevard in 2005. “It’s a model for not only the state but also the country, that this is what happens when a community wraps its arms around its population.”
The cost of the cafe and bakery is $1.7 million. An undisclosed donor has promised a dollar-for-dollar match of up to $500,000 for the project, Farmer said.
While Farmer is excited about the pace of development, it’s hard to believe she is more anxious than Matthew Strobel, a 30-year-old Promiser who is legally blind and bakes cookies at Promise Treasures Thrift Shoppe in the Metro West Shopping Plaza, 3040 West New Haven Ave., West Melbourne.
Now known as “the cookie man,” Strobel plans to use more of his culinary skills and start making breads, pies and desserts at the new facility.
“It gives me a chance to branch out and try my hand out on other things,” Strobel said. “I don’t want to be making cookies all my life.”
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