UCESC Open Can Do Cafe in Fanwood

Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr, Union County Freeholder Sergio Granados join Edison May, a student at UCESC’s Westlake School and CESC Transition Supervisor Josh Bornstein for the grand opening of the Can Do Café in Fanwood.”   Credits: photo by Pamela Staeudle

FANWOOD, NJ -- The Union County Educational Services Commission (UCESC) proudly opened a new retail café and work readiness training site on Tuesday, May 20th. The Can Do Café student workers and staff were joined by Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr and Union County Chosen Freeholder Sergio Granados and their other supporters for the official grand opening ceremony. 

The cafe is located inside the main lobby of First Children School at 330 South Ave. in Fanwood and will offer fresh brewed coffee and a variety of breakfast and snack items. This important project was born out of a partnership between UCESC and First Children Schools, two organizations involved in servicing school-age children with special needs.

The café will primarily serve customers from the building’s two tenants -- First Children School and Children’s Specialized Hospital. The café will serve as a real, but controlled training worksite for students from UCESC’s special education school programs. The goal of this project is to help students with disabilities, ages 16 to 21, learn and practice work skills that will increase their chances of landing paid employment after graduation. The café affords students the opportunity to be exposed to the various tasks and duties necessary to operate an actual small food services business including serving and interacting with customers, using a state of the art point of sale ipad cash register, tracking inventory, and performing general maintenance and cleaning tasks.

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At work, it’s what people CAN do that matters. That’s the simple, yet significant message the Can Do Café will be communicating to the community about people with disabilities. The Can Do Café is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. with a limited schedule in the summer and during school holidays and breaks.

Union County Educational Services Commission (UCESC) is a public school district located in Westfield, NJ. It was established in June, 1969 to provide educational programs and services in response to the needs of the students, parents, faculty and administration of its 21 member school districts.

First Children School is an approved private school serving children with serious medical, cognitive and behavioral conditions. The school partners with districts throughout central New Jersey to provide education, therapy and clinical support for those who are temporarily unable to be served in their home districts. First Children also offers a wide array of home and school-based services to assist children with special needs who can remain in districts with the right supports. For more information, visit

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