When Janet Z. Capua and her son Carlo, a university alumus, decided to start their own catering company a year ago, they never realized the impact they would have on the community.
In celebration of their first anniversary, Z’s Cafe will host a party tonight that will be open to the Fort Worth community. There will be free food, wine and music.
Z’s Cafe partnered with nonprofit organization Samaritan House to give tenants the opportunity to transition from homelessness to the work force.
Samaritan House, according to its Web site, is a nonprofit “that provides low-income housing and health care related services to individuals in Tarrant County impacted by AIDS, who are homeless or in imminent danger of becoming homeless.”
Janet Capua said she always had a passion for cooking and the opportunity to open the cafe and catering business presented itself when her son, Carlo, returned from Mexico.
Steve Dutton, president and CEO of Samaritan House, knew that the Capuas were trying to start a catering company, and he welcomed the opportunity to help them.
Dutton said members of the Fort Worth Community Arts Center called him to see if he knew of anyone who would be willing to start a cafe in the open space the center had available. Although there were three other candidates competing for the space, Dutton said he knew Janet Capua would be the best motherly figure for the Samaritan House tenants.
The Capuas said they employ Samaritan House tenants to help get them back on their feet. Dutton said about one out of every 10 Samaritan House tenants actually are able to leave Samaritan House and return to work without relapsing into homelessness.
“One is enough of a success to continue helping,” Janet Capua said.
She also said that while her proudest moment is raising successful children, she also sees the Samaritan House tenants in the same light.
Janet Capua said the Samaritan House tenants have been “shunned as if they were human trash,” when in reality they are just like everyone else in the world.
In the main Samaritan House complex, there are 60 rooms available with a bed, dressing area and kitchen for those who are HIV-positive. There are also 66 one-, two- and three-bedroom villages that are available for those who have a family member who is infected by the disease or another disability.
Carlo Capua said that while all cafe employees are required to wear gloves, tenants who are HIV-positive are not allowed to handle sharp utensils, which greatly reduces the chance of food becoming contaminated.
Allie Royder, Kelsey Dean and Hayley Huchton contributed to this report.
Z’s Cafe One Year Anniversary Celebration
Where: Fort Worth Community Arts Center
When: 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. tonight
Admission is free.