Self worth is one thing, but to be considered as a woman of worth by an online voting public brings out the humility in Susan Garcia Trieschmann of Evanston. A volunteer and food services entrepreneur, Trieschmann founded Curt’s Café (Cultivating Unique Restaurant Training), a nonprofit restaurant at 2922 Central St., which provides at-risk youth hands-on job and life skills training.
Trieschmann is a 2013 L’Oréal Paris Women of Worth honoree. Women of Worth was founded by L’Oréal Paris eight years ago to honor everyday women making extraordinary differences in their communities. Trieschmann, along with the other nine honorees, received a $10,000 donation from L’Oréal Paris to her organization and was honored Dec. 3 at a star-studded gala in New York City. Nominated by her daughter Anna, 22, Trieschmann, and her husband Tom are also parents to Trevor, 25.
Q. Susan, are you a woman of worth?
A. So they say, yes.
Q. Your daughter Anna nominated you, so your daughter must think you are a woman of worth.
A. My daughter thinks I am. That’s the most important. She sent something in, I think, in May and didn’t tell me. And I got a phone call saying I was in the top 30 and had no idea what it was about. So I called her to say that, ‘You won’t believe this.’ And she said, ‘Mom, I nominated you.’ So it’s very exciting.
Q. Really, what a compliment from your daughter.
A. Thank you. I honestly said that if I never get to the top 10, it’s OK because it’s such an honor.
Q. Talk about the mission of Curt’s Café and why it is a place of worth.
A. Well, that’s a good way of putting it. I think Curt’s Café is a place of worth because we’re working with young adults that have made some bad choices, that are ready to make a change in their life and we’re here to help them make those changes.
So we teach them, in the food service industry, some basic entry level skills, but more importantly, we teach them life skills. So we work with them on financial planning, anger management, how to set a proper table, meeting with adults, looking them in the eye, basic things like that, that maybe weren’t taught at home or maybe they were and they just missed those lessons. And then we help them get jobs at the end of the three months. So it’s a full program.
We’re run by volunteers, we have four or five social workers that volunteer here all week long. We have women and men that work on the line and make coffee next to the students. It’s a full day for the kids to learn different skills.
Q. And Curt’s Café was your vision, right?
A. It was my vision. I decided it was a good idea a year ago February. So it’s really new. We opened in May. And we just passed our first year, which in a restaurant, is huge. Ninety-seven percent of us (restaurants) fail in the first year. So the café portion is moving along and doing well.
Q. Any thoughts about gratitude?
A. Every day. Every day. This Women of Worth thing is so wonderful. I’m so honored, but it’s so embarrassing because I get more out of it than I think that they do. I work hard but I get something special everyday from these students. The smile or the first time that they engage with a customer or when they walk out and they say,’I love you.’ That means a lot.