Yesterday we graduated five individuals from our Real Opportunity culinary training program. Real Opps lasts six months and includes an internship with Thrive DC’s chefs, an externship at a local restaurant, and intensive case management to address the barriers preventing clients from finding employment.
It’s a long program, but it works! Out of a cohort of eight participants, five have graduated from the program, four have already secured full-time sustainable employment, and two achieved their Food Manager’s Certification! The certification not only makes them more attractive to employers, but gives them the capability for quick advancement wherever they find employment.
Michael Henderson came to the program faced with barriers affecting his personal and professional life. Previous work was in a profession that spanned over 20 years, but now he needed a new vocations and skill set to continue his professional career.
Throughout his time in the program, Mr. Henderson took material from the employment workshops and used it to improve his day to day interaction with individuals. Mr. Henderson worked at Amsterdam Falafel House in Adams Morgan during his externship and continues to seek new ventures to add to his resume.
Denkiell Tyson come to the program with one goal in mind – to work in a kitchen and improve what he began to learn growing up with his parents. He entered the program without stable housing and no funding for transportation. Despite these challenges, he kept the vision of our program in mind and persevered through his trials.
Mr. Tyson became a start trainee in the kitchen and often stayed late just to hang out and help with future assignments. He interned at Dos Gringos Cafe and is working with management for a possible employment opportunity.
Stephany Onley came to Real Opps on fire for the opportunity it represented and remained on fire the entire time. Ms. Onley previously worked for private individuals for years and needed to learn how to communicate all of what she could do to new employers.
Her fire and tenacity finally payed off – she is now certified with her Food Manager’s Certification and is working part-time in Rockville, MD. She is also working with her case manager for other opportunities to apply her new acquired knowledge.