Food for Good

Tanya Blackford of Mainstay.

Tanya Blackford of Mainstay.

Tanya Blackford says Dandelion, Hendersonville’s newest eatery is more than just a stylish café — it’s a means for victims of domestic violence to escape a vicious cycle of abuse and dependency.

“We can help people with all the trauma and crisis services that we want, but if we can’t address employment issues then we’re really not helping people address their self-sufficiency,” says Blackford, Executive Director of Mainstay, Henderson County’s domestic violence shelter. “We started looking at what we could create that would be a self-sustaining service to the community while providing job training and skills.”

Dandelion is the culmination of those efforts. “We got a lot of our people involved, and for everybody dandelions have different meanings,” she says. “For some people they mean healing. Kids pick them up and make wishes, so that’s where we got the name.”

The cafe’s lone employee, Robyn Painter, will supervise a team of six interns consisting of people who may have experienced family violence or who have some type of employment barrier.

“We’re working with Blue Ridge Community College for training and certification, and we’re working with local bakeries and restaurants, farmers and crafters to have their products,” Blackford says. “The way we have designed it Dandelion should be entirely self-supporting. We’re trying to give back to the community and support the community all at the same time.”

Blackford says she is most proud of the strong partnerships Mainstay has developed in the community. Those partners include agencies such as the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office, Hendersonville Police Department and Blue Ridge Community Health Services.

Blackford says she strives to help her clients live up to their potential. “I have a basic belief that people can accomplish anything and get the respect that goes along with that,” she says. “People can overcome and accomplish amazing things. They just sometimes need a little support and encouragement.”

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