.- An Alaskan man is using his Anchorage-based ice cream shop as an extension of the Catholic faith, supporting the local community’s spiritual and economic needs as well as its sweet tooth.
Rich Owens is the owner of Tastee Freez located at Jewel Lake in Anchorage. The shop has become something of a mentorship program for the area’s youth, and Owens has a strong sense of giving back to his community.
“I think that being raised in the church aims us in the right direction,” Owens told the Catholic Anchor.
“We learned from watching our mom and dad that this is the way that you live your life,” he said. “This is the rule, not the exception.”
Owens said he has been eating Tastee Freez since he was a child. Having developed a career in the retail business in Montana, he wanted to own his own business in Alaska and purchased the shop in 1994. The actual shop, though, celebrated its 60th anniversary earlier this year.
The shop is the largest Tastee Freez establishment in the country. The franchise recognized Owens as the Operator of the Year in 2006 and 2015.
Owens saw the business as an opportunity to emphasize his Catholic faith by means of community service. The programs have aided the community’s Catholic formation, employment opportunities, and even provided a tasty snack during the holidays.
The ice cream shop has been used as a workforce center. An estimated 700 employees, often 17-year-olds, have gained onsite job experience at Owens’ Tastee Freez.
Read more at Catholic World Report.