Where is Reconcile today?
Though Father Tompson died in 2001, his legacy flourishes in the daily activities of the Reconcile programs. To date, Reconcile New Orleans’ Workforce Development Program has successfully graduated more than 1,000 youth between the ages of 16 and 22. These students leave the 12-week program with basic life skills, interpersonal skills and work skills, enabling and empowering them to successfully enter the workforce.
Currently housed in a five-story, 17,000 square foot building reclaimed in the Central City neighborhood of New Orleans, Reconcile New Orleans strives to provide:
- youth from at-risk communities with an opportunity to learn the life, job, and educational skills necessary for successful entry into the food service and construction industries.
- a cornerstone for the economic recovery of the Central City neighborhood.
- services to address unmet neighborhood needs, such as GED education, computer literacy, parenting skills, and organizational support for aspiring local entrepreneurs.
- a gathering place where people of goodwill can work together to solve difficult social problems.
In 1996, Rev. Harry Tompson, S.J., then pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish, joined with concerned community members Craig Cuccia and Tim Falcon to address the system of neglect, violence, and generational poverty that had plagued out-of-school youth in New Orleans’ troubled Central City neighborhood. Gathering with likeminded community activists in prayer, research, and dialogue, the group worked hard to understand the difficult social reality.
To establish a positive presence in the community, the founders opened a sweet shop, called “Sweet T,” in a small room on the ground floor.
With Sweet T as a foundation, Café Reconcile opened for business on September 5, 2000, providing an environment for the kind of life-skills and job training that had been the founders’ dream.
Katrina and Response
Hurricane Katrina dealt a devastating blow to the entire city. Though Café Reconcile sustained significant damage, the Central City neighborhood was spared the kind of large scale flooding that had affected other parts of the city.
Aware of the city’s dire need for skilled construction workers to help with rebuilding, Reconcile launched a construction training program in 2006 to complement the culinary training program that had been in place for years.