Get to know Kiwana and Abdi: The Rising Stars of January!

Congratulations Kiwana and Abdi!

Cookie Cart chooses two youth employees each month as our Rising Stars. Our program staff works together to determine which young people are striving to be their best. They look for a positive attitude, mindfulness of adult staff and youth peers, strong attendance to scheduled shifts, and demonstration of initiative and willingness to help others.

What makes Kiwana and Abdi stand out? Read questions from an interview with them below and stop by our bakery to meet this month’s Rising Stars!

Kiwana

How long have you worked at Cookie Cart?
6 months. I volunteered here once with my dad before I got hired. I wanted to work here because it was with people my age. I was hired through STEP-UP this summer and then asked to stay when STEP-UP ended.

What is your favorite thing about working at Cookie Cart?
My favorite thing about working at Cookie Cart is that we get to experience new things and ideas, like on the workplace visits. We go to places I’ve never heard of or seen and they teach us a lot about the future. I also like the classes because I learn things that I wouldn’t know without them. Like the financial literacy classes.

Why do you think that we chose you for Rising Star?
I think I was chosen because of the work I’ve done in the bakery. I don’t mess around and I get the work done that’s assigned to me. I’ve taken on more complicated orders recently, and I make sure they’re done right.

What is the secret to your success?
Being happy. I’m never mad or sad, and if I am I don’t show it, because having a good attitude is important and it’s hard to do work and stay on task without it. Other people latch on to how you feel, so you have to be positive or it brings everyone down.

What is your most memorable moment at Cookie Cart?
The 3M Workplace Visit because we did hands on things like decorate a car and learn what 3M does. I never paid attention to tape or anything like that but over break we were wrapping presents and I noticed the tape was from 3M.

What is your favorite type of cookie?
M&M

Can you share some advice on how to become Rising Star?
Be successful. Do what you have to do and help others out. Stay on task and keep others on task too. If the managers are offering hours – take them!

What does your bright future look like?
I want to be a social worker because I like talking to people and helping them. I started researching what social workers do and it seems like something I would like to do. I’m also in dance at school and a studio, so I want to do something with dance in my future.

What are the top three skills you’ve learned at Cookie Cart, or have worked on the most?
Leadership is important. Communication because closed mouths don’t get fed. And Teamwork.

Abdi

How long have you worked at Cookie Cart?
3 months. I started in October. I wanted to get more experience because other jobs told me I needed it.

What is your favorite thing about working at Cookie Cart?
I like scooping, dishes, and working with volunteer groups because they see I’m a good worker and tell me I’m doing a good job. I like teaching them how to scoop and other skills.

Why do you think that we chose you for Rising Star?
I like to work hard. Scooping is a hard job and I always do it because I don’t like doing simple work.

What is the secret to your success?
I’m reliable – I do what the managers ask and I do it quickly. I’m motivated by wanting to improve my experience for a next job.

What is your most memorable moment at Cookie Cart?
The first time I packed an order I spent 20 minutes trying to get the belly band on. A Cart Captain came to help me and taught me how to do it.

What is your favorite type of cookie?
Chocolate Chip and Peanut Butter

Can you share some advice on how to become Rising Star?
Ask your managers for help before you do something you don’t know how to do. Be reliable and serious about your job. Do you work like you own the business and aren’t just an employee.

What does your bright future look like?
I want to go to college for business management. Maybe to St. Cloud. I want to have a big family too.

What are the top three skills you’ve learned at Cookie Cart, or have worked on the most?
Always work hard, Leadership, and hard work pays off because your managers will be proud and will appreciate your hard work.

Congratulations on being selected as Rising Stars for the month of January. The leadership team would like to thank you for all your hard work!

Meet Saeed

Saeed’s move to Minnesota in November 2016 was his third across two continents and more than 12,000 miles. His family was in search of a place to call home. Displaced from Somalia because of civil unrest and famine, they first moved to South Africa, then to Texas and finally Minnesota.

New to North Minneapolis and not knowing many people, he wanted something to do after school. “I came from places that didn’t have job opportunities, so I thought it would be impossible to get a job.” But when Saeed heard about Cookie Cart from his classmate, he knew it was where he wanted to be.

Connecting is critical to success! Connecting to peers, caring adults, your community and new communities. Connecting only happens from a strong foundation. Young people at Cookie Cart are working to build strong foundations with skills and assets so they can connect and succeed.

Your gift makes sure that teens like Saeed have a safe, nurturing place to go to connect and build community!

“I never even thought about being a Cart Captain, but the managers saw me as a leader and that’s when I started realizing that I needed to start speaking more with my coworkers.” Cookie Cart staff could see that Saeed had potential to be a strong leader. They knew with the right training, he could become a role model for the teens in the bakery. In March, they enrolled him in leadership training courses where he found his personal leadership style.

The hard work paid off – Saeed was promoted to Cart Captain in March 2017. At first, leading was a challenge. It was hard to direct his friends and peers on work projects, but he soon found his voice and is now a true leader.

Knowing that young people are succeeding at Cookie Cart in Minneapolis, we are working with Saint Paul’s East Side neighborhood to convert a vacant building into a vibrant youth-centered space for teens.

All this happens because of community members like you who have committed to giving bright teens with high potential living in the Twin Cities’ lowest-income neighborhoods the opportunity to achieve their dreams.

Your donation supports hundreds of teens like Saeed as they connect to new communities. Now more than ever, we need to create positive and sustainable communities. With your support, we will hire 200 teenagers like Saeed and provide them with their first paid job experience, that will set them up for success in career and education, by giving them the critical leadership, interpersonal, and work skills they need.

Please consider making a tax-deductible gift before December 31. We are deeply grateful for your support.

Wishing you a safe and happy holiday season,
The Cookie Cart Staff, Youth Employees, and Board of Directors.

Get to know Aria and Zuri: The Rising Stars of December!

Congratulations Aria and Zuri!

Cookie Cart chooses two youth employees each month as our Rising Stars. Our program staff works together to determine which young people are striving to be their best. They look for a positive attitude, mindfulness of adult staff and youth peers, strong attendance to scheduled shifts, and demonstration of initiative and willingness to help others.

What makes Aria and Zuri stand out? Read questions from an interview with them below and stop by our bakery to meet this month’s Rising Stars!

Aria

How long have you worked at Cookie Cart?
Since June. I applied because my mom knew about Cookie Cart from her friend who volunteered here.

What is your favorite thing about working at Cookie Cart?
I like meeting all the new people who work here. And I like decorating cookies, which was hard at the beginning but now it’s fun.

Why do you think that we chose you for Rising Star?
I do the task I’m asked to do and I finish them. I work well with other people and I ask volunteers to work with me when they’re here because I like talking to them and hearing about their experience. They are good at giving advice and perspective.

What is the secret to your success?
Knowing what to do, because you learn a lot when you first start and I can remember everything they taught me. I’m motivated by wanting to do my best.

What is your most memorable moment at Cookie Cart?
The first CART Circle we did when I was hired, because I got to see all the things we were going to do and it was more than I expected.

What is your favorite type of cookie?
Chocolate chip

Can you share some advice on how to become Rising Star?
Work your hardest and do your best. If something is challenging, just keep working at it and never give up.

What does your bright future look like?
I want to go to college for Culinary Arts and open my own bakery.

What are the top three skills you’ve learned at Cookie Cart, or have worked on the most?
Working on a team, customer service, and learning to work with managers

Zuri

How long have you worked at Cookie Cart?
5 months. I wanted to work here because both my mom and dad worked with Sr. Jean and my sister worked here in 2010. They were so happy when I got hired.

What is your favorite thing about working at Cookie Cart?
I just love it. It’s a day freshener. I learn something here every day and being a part of the team and having a support system is what matters. I like doing customer service because I get to interact with people and tell them what Cookie Cart is about. I love seeing their reactions when they find out we only hired teens.

Why do you think that we chose you for Rising Star?
I get the work done. When I have a task, I just do it or come back to it. I help a lot of people too even though I’m not a Cart Captain yet. If someone is doing something wrong I step up and show them.

What is the secret to your success?
I’m a fixer – if something isn’t right I change it. I’m always helping people even if I’m not good at what they’re working on. I take all the challenges that come my way and go find out how to do instead of just passing them on, because you never know when it will come up again.

What is your most memorable moment at Cookie Cart?
I came into work one day and wasn’t feeling my best and was down, but everyone noticed and was there for me. Cookie Cart is the best support system and you can never have a bad day when you’re here, even if it starts bad it’ll get better when you get here.

What is your favorite type of cookie?
M&M

Can you share some advice on how to become Rising Star?
Keep pushing forward, try to fix your mistakes and put your mind to it.

What does your bright future look like?
After I finish high school I want to go to a community college, then get my bachelor’s and then probably a Master’s and PhD. I want to be a teacher or maybe a psychologist because I like helping and fixing things. I want to move out of Minnesota to somewhere different. i just want to be successful and be able to say I made it because I came from a struggle and I want to make it further than people think I would have.

What are the top three skills you’ve learned at Cookie Cart, or have worked on the most?
Teamwork, Communication, Budgeting.

Congratulations on being selected as Rising Stars for the month of December. The leadership team would like to thank you for all your hard work!

Get to know Tazia and Ahmed: The Rising Stars of November!

Congratulations Tazia and Ahmed!

Cookie Cart chooses two youth employees each month as our Rising Stars. Our program staff works together to determine which young people are striving to be their best. They look for a positive attitude, mindfulness of adult staff and youth peers, strong attendance to scheduled shifts, and demonstration of initiative and willingness to help others.

What makes Tazia and Ahmed stand out? Read questions from an interview with them below and stop by our bakery to meet this month’s Rising Stars!

Tazia

How long have you worked at Cookie Cart?
5 months.

What is your favorite thing about working at Cookie Cart?
Customer service because I get to see new faces and I get to make people happy. It was a little complicated at first, but when I started doing it more I got it.

Why do you think that we chose you for Rising Star?
I show leadership, I’m a very happy person, I get a lot of people in the mood – like I make people feel good about themselves.

What is the secret to your success?
I’m determined, I want to get my job done and I stay on task all the time and don’t come to play. I’m motivated by seeing people doing good, if I see my teammates doing good, it makes me want to be good so together we can be great.

What is your most memorable moment at Cookie Cart?
I got a tray of sugar for the double chocolate chip cookies and I got too close to Moses and it just dropped and got all over my shoes, and everyone was just looking at me.

What is your favorite type of cookie?
Chocolate chip and double chocolate chip

Can you share some advice on how to become Rising Star?
Show leadership, don’t be afraid to say what’s on your mind, be yourself don’t try to fit it and it’s okay to be yourself.

What does your bright future look like?
I want to go to MN School of Cosmetology and business school so I can own my own beauty bar. Or I might want to be a lawyer because I’m good at arguing.

What are the top three skills you’ve learned at Cookie Cart, or have worked on the most?
Communication, Customer Service, and Be yourself – don’t try to fit in.

Ahmed

How long have you worked at Cookie Cart?
Since March. I wanted to work at Cookie Cart because I knew they hired only teens and it’s my first job so I wanted to learn a lot.

What is your favorite thing about working at Cookie Cart?
I like sales events. I’ve only been on one, but I like helping to sell cookies and saying hello to people. I also like scooping because it’s the easiest job. At first, it was hard, but the more I did it, the better I got.

Why do you think that we chose you for Rising Star?
I don’t talk much, but I show people how to do the job. If they see me scooping fast, they’ll follow me and go fast as well. I like competition so I get everyone to work hard together.

What is the secret to your success?
Working hard, being on time, and getting the job done on time. I’m motivated by knowing that I’ll get more experience by working here.

What is your most memorable moment at Cookie Cart?
The first time I did dishes, I stacked too many trays on the drying shelf and they all fell on the ground.

What is your favorite type of cookie?
Coconut Toffee. And Pumpkin Spice

Can you share some advice on how to become Rising Star?
Work hard and get the job done on time. Don’t fuss too much about the job, and make it fun.

What does your bright future look like?
I want to go to college and study business

What are the top three skills you’ve learned at Cookie Cart, or have worked on the most?
Time management, communication, and meeting new people.

Congratulations on being selected as Rising Stars for the month of November. The leadership team would like to thank you for all your hard work!

Get to know Rashi and Mariana: The Rising Stars of October!

Congratulations Rashi and Mariana!

Cookie Cart chooses two youth employees each month as our Rising Stars. Our program staff works together to determine which young people are striving to be their best. They look for a positive attitude, mindfulness of adult staff and youth peers, strong attendance to scheduled shifts, and demonstration of initiative and willingness to help others.

What makes Rashi and Mariana stand out? Read questions from an interview with them below and stop by our bakery to meet this month’s Rising Stars!

Rashi

How long have you worked at Cookie Cart?
Since April. I decided to apply to work at Cookie Cart because I knew it was a good first job experience and that I would be able to work with people my age.

What is your favorite thing about working at Cookie Cart?
I like that I get to meet new people and talk to them. I’ve met so many people who live in my neighborhood by working here. I like that my coworkers can be themselves here and that we get to have fun while we work hard. I like that we get to do sales events and workplace visits because we get to learn and get paid, which is a nice opportunity to have. I guess I just like that I get more opportunities that will prepare us for the next job.

Why do you think that we chose you for Rising Star?
I worked hard this summer. I was always calling in on my days off to see if I could work, or asked if I could stay longer. I started here wanting to learn everything I could, so I asked a lot of questions so I would know what to do.

What is the secret to your success?
Keep yourself positive and motivated. Even if I’m not in the best mood, I keep going because I know hard work pays off. I stepped up to be a leader even though I’m not a Cart Captain yet.

What is your most memorable moment at Cookie Cart?
Honestly, the Dairy Queen workplace visit because I learned a lot about marketing and I got 2nd place in the blizzard competition. And also my first sales event because I really learned how to talk to people that day. I spent all the downtime reading the brochure so I knew what to say to people when they asked what Cookie Cart was.

What is your favorite type of cookie?
Chocolate chip

Can you share some advice on how to become Rising Star?
You want to stand out in a good way. Be a good work and respectful to your coworkers. If you have some bad qualities when you start, just be willing to show you can change those into positive things.

What does your bright future look like?
I want to get a 4-year degree and be a fashion designer and have my own business that’s like Cookie Cart, but with designing clothes instead of cookies. I want to go to St. Thomas, St. Kate’s, or St. Cloud State University

What are the top three skills you’ve learned at Cookie Cart, or have worked on the most?
Leadership, Communication, Time management

Mariana 

How long have you worked at Cookie Cart?
Since November. I wanted to work at Cookie Cart because lots of my family worked here.

What is your favorite thing about working at Cookie Cart?
The environment and the vibe, and the fact that there’s no bad energy here. I like doing customer service and folding boxes too.

Why do you think that we chose you for Rising Star?
I have shown my potential and grown into it. I’m not a Cart Captain yet, but I’ve stepped out of my box since I started and I actually help people instead of watching them fail. I’m not afraid to correct my coworkers, even Cart Captains.

What is the secret to your success?
Have fun. Don’t let anyone stop you from what you’re supposed to be doing. Not having an attitude

What is your most memorable moment at Cookie Cart?
Last year when I first started we were in the community room building shipping boxes and that was fun. We built so many it filled the windows.

What is your favorite type of cookie?
Chocolate Chip

Can you share some advice on how to become Rising Star?
Just be yourself and be positive. Come to work ready.

What does your bright future look like?
I want to go to FAMU or UCLA and become a surgeon.

What are the top three skills you’ve learned at Cookie Cart, or have worked on the most?
Leadership skills, critical thinking, and good customer service.

Congratulations on being selected as Rising Stars for the month of October. The leadership team would like to thank you for all your hard work!

Meet the Chefs: Kristy Dirk

Cookie Cart’s 9th Annual Chefs’ Dinner is on October 29 at Town & Country Club in Saint Paul. The dinner is prepared by a team of local celebrity chefs, led by award-winning chef, culinary educator, and restaurant consultant Pat Weber, along with student chefs from the International Culinary School at the Art Institutes International of Minnesota. We are honored to have another phenomenal lineup chefs for this year’s event, including Kristy Dirk of Lucky Oven Bakery.

Kristy Dirk is the chef and owner of Lucky Oven Bakery. After graduating from the Art Institutes International Baking and Pastry program, she went to work for Michelle Gayer’s  Salty Tart. She has also done pastry work for Mise en Place and worked as a pastry chef at Mosaic Café and Red Wagon Pizza.

Visit the Chefs’ Dinner main page »

Meet the Chefs: Robert Dunn

Cookie Cart’s 9th Annual Chefs’ Dinner is on October 29 at Town & Country Club in Saint Paul. The dinner is prepared by a team of local celebrity chefs, led by award-winning chef, culinary educator, and restaurant consultant Pat Weber, along with student chefs from the International Culinary School at the Art Institutes International of Minnesota. We are honored to have another phenomenal lineup chefs for this year’s event, including Robert Dunn of Club Medtronic inside US Bank Stadium.

Chef Robert, a native of Chicago, is a 2014 graduate of The Art Institute of Minnesota. His passion for cooking started at a young age and has only continued to flourish through the years. Robert is currently chef at Club Medtronic in Minneapolis at US Bank Stadium., where he is not only dedicated to his team and customers, but also to put his heart into every dish he creates. To Robert, cooking is more than just a job, it’s what fills his life with purpose and meaning. In his free time, Robert enjoys using his skill set and love for food to give back to his community through a variety of events and programs, including Cooking Matters, the No Kid Hungry Initiative, with the University of Minnesota. Robert hopes to one day open his own restaurant in Minneapolis where he can continue to share his passion with his community and bring happiness into the lives of others.

Visit the Chefs’ Dinner main page »

Meet the Chefs: Gene Norling

Cookie Cart’s 9th Annual Chefs’ Dinner is on October 29 at Town & Country Club in Saint Paul. The dinner is prepared by a team of local celebrity chefs, led by award-winning chef, culinary educator, and restaurant consultant Pat Weber, along with student chefs from the International Culinary School at the Art Institutes International of Minnesota. We are honored to have another phenomenal lineup chefs for this year’s event, including Gene Norling of Domacin Wine Bar.

Some of Chef Gene’s earliest memories are from growing up on a farm up north in rural Minnesota. His parents instilled a respect for food. They raised pigs, chickens, grew vegetables, and had a large root cellar full of preserved crops from years prior. It took Gene quite a few years to recognize his calling as a chef. Creating dishes, and making food for guests is what truly makes him happy. Chef Gene makes sacrifices in his personal life in order to do these things, and he looks forward to seeing many smiles at this year’s Cookie Cart Chefs’ Dinner.

Visit the Chefs’ Dinner main page »

Meet the Chefs: Blake Wangelin

Cookie Cart’s 9th Annual Chefs’ Dinner is on October 29 at Town & Country Club in Saint Paul. The dinner is prepared by a team of local celebrity chefs, led by award-winning chef, culinary educator and restaurant consultant Pat Weber, along with student chefs from the International Culinary School at the Art Institutes International of Minnesota. We are honored to have another phenomenal line up chefs for this year’s event, including Blake Wangelin of Blue Birch Restaurant.

Chef Blake made his start in his family’s restaurant in a small town in Wisconsin. Quickly after graduating high school, he moved to the Twin Cities to go to The Art Institute of Minnesota, where he won the Best Teen Chef Competition in 2013, and graduated in December of 2015. After working in a couple small restaurants, Blake entered the hotel scene for the Commons Hotel, and then worked briefly with Jamie Malone and Eric Anderson. Currently, Blake works as Sous Chef of Marriott Southwest and the residing restaurant, Blue Birch.

Visit the Chefs’ Dinner main page »

Introducing September’s Rising Stars!

Congratulations Autumn and Jackie!

Cookie Cart chooses two youth employees each month as our Rising Stars. Our program staff works together to determine which young people are striving to be their best. They look for a positive attitude, mindfulness of adult staff and youth peers, strong attendance to scheduled shifts, and demonstration of initiative and willingness to help others.

What makes Autumn and Jackie stand out? Read questions from an interview with them below and stop by our bakery to meet this month’s Rising Stars!

Autumn

How long have you worked at Cookie Cart?
Since October 23. I wanted to work here because my friends told me about it and said it would be fun. And I heard it was a nice first job experience.

What is your favorite thing about working at Cookie Cart?
I like going on sales events because you get to go places, meet new people, and they help us with what we need to work on. I also like working in the bakery and doing customer service. I like talking to people, but I haven’t always liked to. When I first started working here, it made me come out more. I knew I needed help with my communication skills because I was so shy, and Cookie Cart has helped with that.

Why do you think that we chose you for Rising Star?
I’m always doing what has to be done, I do extra, and I always make sure my workplace is clean. I make sure everyone is on task and help people who need help. I’m not a Cart Captain yet, but I’m working on it.

What is the secret to your success?
I keep doing what I’m doing and make sure that I’m trying something different if I mess up so I can do better. I’m motivated by the leadership class I took at Cookie Cart because it taught us a lot about communication and eye contact. I was still pretty shy when I did the leadership class, but now I know I can’t be shy, I need to speak up more.

What is your most memorable moment at Cookie Cart?
During the winter last year it was super busy and we were making lots of cookies. I met a lot of new people and volunteers. I thought it was a lot of fun because we got to scoop a lot of cookie dough and learned to decorate cookies.

What is your favorite type of cookie?
Chocolate chip

Can you share some advice on how to become Rising Star?
Keep up the good work, focus on what you need help on, speak up and communicate with your teammates, and have eye contact with customers.

What does your bright future look like?
I want to go to college at MCTC and I want to be a psychologist or a nurse, or own my own restaurant – either Mexican or Native American food. I’m also interested in cosmetology and want to be a music producer.

What are the top three skills you’ve learned at Cookie Cart, or have worked on the most?
Leadership, Communication, Connection to new communities

Jackie 

How long have you worked at Cookie Cart?
1 year. I wanted to work here because my brother said it was a good way to earn money and you get free cookies. My mom knew Sister Jean too.

What is your favorite thing about working at Cookie Cart?
I like scooping, washing dishes, and cleaning. When I’m done with scooping and dishes I ask my manager what I can do next.

Why do you think that we chose you for Rising Star?
I ask for help when I need it and I give people great compliments. I’m learning to work with a team.

What is the secret to your success?
My family because I help my mom pay for food and bills.

What is your most memorable moment at Cookie Cart?
Everything at Cookie Cart is memorable and sticks with me.

What is your favorite type of cookie?
Chocolate Chip

Can you share some advice on how to become Rising Star?
Make sure you do a good job working here. If you love something, follow it and give it your all, and don’t let someone tell you that you can’t do the impossible things.

What does your bright future look like?
I want to work at a tea shop because I’m good at making tea and know the secret recipes.

What are the top three skills you’ve learned at Cookie Cart, or have worked on the most?
Do things that will help you keep your job, better interviewing skills, and how to teach volunteers how to do jobs at Cookie Cart.

Congratulations on being selected as Rising Stars for the month of September. The leadership team would like to thank you for all your hard work!