Residents in transitional housing and shelter programs in Greene County are finding new hope through the Helping Others Prepare for Employment (HOPE) Café. Begun last year by Community Action Partnership in Greene County using American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, the HOPE Café program trains residents for food service jobs and provides catering and restaurant services for the local community.
“The HOPE Café targets individuals participating in homeless and transitional programs in Greene County,” explained Gale Hutchinson, Community Action Partnership Greene County Director. “We provide valuable training in proper interviewing skills, appropriate dress, interpersonal skills and customer relations, along with training in culinary and catering services.”
The ultimate goal is to equip all participants with the skills necessary to gain full time employment through hands on training, and to provide “home-grown” food services to the community. An Open House last September kicked off the HOPE Café catering service.
Four apprentices chosen from Community Action Partnership’s Harding Place Transitional Housing Program started the eight-week program. Following orientation, they moved into the agency’s commercial kitchen, where they shadowed the Cook I and II, Kitchen Aide and Dishwasher positions. The on-site manager and head cook supervise the apprentices.
The four apprentices learned to work as a team to complete their assigned tasks. They also received help with money management, working toward a GED, and in seeking additional training, such as cake decorating, to make them more employable in the food service industry.
In January, CAP held a graduation ceremony for the first HOPE Café class: Harold Barnes, Jr., David Miller, Kurt Pilkington and Doug Siegfried. Another group of apprentices starting the program immediately followed them.
Recently, the HOPE Café’ moved to another level by adding lunch service to its catering function. The HOPE Café restaurant is behind the Community Action Partnership office at 1855 Bellbrook Rd. in Xenia. Lunch is served weekdays from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Customers may dine in or carry out.
The HOPE Café offers a variety of sandwiches, soups, salads, box lunches, sack lunches and daily hot specials. In the coming weeks, the HOPE Café plans to extend its hours to include dinner. An Open House and Grand Opening Celebration is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 1. More information will follow.
“Though the HOPE Café employs these workers on a part-time basis, the goal is to provide trained, capable workers who can fill full-time jobs in the community,” said Hutchinson.