October 16, 2015
The newly developed COOK Program
Rockford Housing Authority is honored to share that 9 of the 21 (43%) graduates from the newly developed COOK Program were residents of RHA. You couldn’t knock a smile off the staff or participants’ faces on Monday during their graduation. Along with finishing the program, participants received their First Aid & CPR Certification, Certification of Completion and their ServSafe Food Handler Certification. The graduates prepared and coordinated a meal and everything else that goes on behind the scenes in the culinary industry for many leaders and members of our community held at the Rockford Rescue Mission on Monday, October 12th. Some duties included: food preparation, table setting, dishes, cooking, serving food and drinks, hosting/seating guests, etc. The food was very yummy and very fresh! Many were given the opportunity to interview on-site following the graduation and others were given business cards to call and set up an interview for a few different local employers as well.
Participants were introduced to core culinary duties in a broad range of positions throughout the culinary industry by actual restaurant professionals during their time in the program. Aside from the restaurant professionals, many area agencies and non-profit organizations chipped in to provide education in areas such as goal setting, teamwork, time & resource management and job searching, applications and case management. These type of hands-on trainings are so KEY for exposure and experience in different career fields.
RHA was excited to be a part of this opportunity because we were able to connect clients who were interested in or passionate about cooking to a great opportunity where they could enhance their current skillsets, network with culinary professionals, meet new people who share the same interests and allow for more exposure in the field while incorporating some useful certifications for them in the process. Those who participated were certified in CPR, First Aid and ServSafe Food Handling.
These type of opportunities help our residents because some just need a foot in the door or some training under their belt to help spark interest from area employers and businesses for possible employment opportunities and to empower individuals to strive for things they believe in or are passionate about. I think the COOK Program did just that and will do just that in the future if given the opportunity. This program is unique because it had several agencies working together to coach the participants through their 3+ week journey and beyond while participating in many of the workshops held daily at the Rockford Rescue Mission. The overall goal for most is to obtain employment in the culinary industry, so being connecting to professionals who can help mentor and coach them through the process allows for a solid support system and other possible networking opportunities also!
Overall, this program was very impactful and exciting to see in action! It is our hope that more programs like this will be developed and we hope to be at the table to help put them in motion! It was great to see participants engage and grow throughout a short, 3 weeks. I was able to witness true leaders form and a group work together great as team after not knowing each other for very long. The dedication and excitement in the eyes of the COOK Program participants was just absolutely awesome to witness!
Resident Programs Case Manager