Founded in 2013, Puzzle Café is a dream turned into reality for José Canoy and his family. Like other families, the Canoy family was also anxious about José's future. They worried about how the society would treat him and how he would cope with life's challenges because of his special needs.
Ms. Ysabella Canoy, the general manager and sister of José, always had the passion for serving children with special needs. She encouraged the whole family to work together towards the security of José's future hence Puzzle Café was built.
The Unboxed Team was blessed to have the opportunity to meet Ms. Ysabella and experience the "heaven-on-earth" ambience of the café. The place gives people feelings of happiness, security, fulfillment and most of all: HOPE -- just how exactly the Canoy family envisioned it to be.
How did you come up with the idea of building this café?
Y: This café was initially for José. It was our dream for him. We hired an interior designer to help us put our concepts into reality. We also used various social media accounts to help it get known.
Why was it named Puzzle Café?
Y: José named it! José loves puzzles!
What were the struggles that you encountered when the Puzzle was newly built?
Y: Every member of the family must really contribute. Close relationship is very important: parents and siblings involvement. Amidst the struggles and misunderstandings, José brought us together. We see him as a blessing.
How did you begin outsourcing employees particularly those with special needs?
Y: We opened the café not only to children with autism but also to others with special needs. We didn't want to turn anyone away. But more than the age, it's the readiness that we should consider.
What are the requirements to be accepted as a trainee?
Y: They have to be in school (with program). There will also be assessment of skills, follow-up with parents, and partnership with schools (for simulation). If they will be regularized, their salary will be PHP 50/hour.
What is the cafe's mission?
Y: The mission changes constantly: "Do not be driven by money or popularity."
How to do you overcome challenges?
Y: Remember that they are relying on you not to give up on them, they need people to believe in them.
What is your plan in the next 5 years for the cafe? Are you planning to open it for franchising?
Y: I don't like to make it profit-driven. I don't like to open it for franchise/branch because Jose is no longer there-- my passion is not there. Also, our plan is to help the future generations of children with special needs.
What is your message for Jose?
Y: I will always respect your likes and dislikes. I'm extremely proud of you and I believe in you.
What is your advice for people in line with our profession and others who help special children?
Y: At the end of the day...
Always do all things with love.