Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

May 4, 2014

YWCA cooking up new opportunities for job hunters

By Kaley Lynch kaley.lynch@lockportjournal.com
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Renovations are almost finished in the basement kitchen at the YWCA of Niagara, where a new culinary training program will be offered.

The kitchen in the Cottage Street building has been gutted, with all residential appliances removed to make room for new restaurant-grade freezers and ovens, Jean Mullet-Hosey, YWCA social media and events coordinator, said. Culinary training classes are expected to begin in September. The YWCA plans on running four classes and graduating a total of 40 students per year.

The 16-week program will instruct students in cooking techniques and customer service skills so that they’re able to work in a commercial kitchen.

The program, which has been offered at the YWCA’s Carolyn’s House in Niagara Falls for the past eight years, has graduated 120 women. Thirty-six percent of graduates are now employed and 10 percent are continuing their education at the Niagara County Community College-operated Culinary Arts Institute in Niagara Falls.

While the program at Carolyn’s House is exclusively for women, the Lockport program will accept men as well.

Graduates will receive a certificate of completion and job placement assistance. They’ll also have the chance to work for the YWCA’s social enterprises, The Catering Crew and the Niagara Falls International Airport Cafe.

In addition to culinary training, students can study for the Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC), the new, Common Core learning standards-aligned high school equivalency diploma test. Test preparation is arranged by Orleans-Niagara BOCES, which will also assist students’ training in computer skills, job readiness and resume writing. That’s all to help ensure graduates can land and keep a job, according to Susan Diemert, literacy specialist for BOCES’ continuing education program.

“They will also be able to earn seven credits through the program toward NCCC’s culinary program if they choose to continue their education,” she said.

The YWCA received an urban initiatives grant that covered the cost of renovating the Cottage Street kitchen, but not the equipment that’s needed to run a culinary training program.

Enter the Rotary Club of Lockport, which is aiming to raise $30,000 for the YWCA so that the program is supplied with mixing bowls, spatulas and everything else that goes into a commercial kitchen.

The club’s third annual Gourmet Dinner, set for May 17, is an occasion to wine and dine charitable donors in the hopes they’ll agree to write a check to the YWCA. The invitation-only dinner is financed by the club in conjunction with other community supporters.

Every year, the Rotary Club tries to identify a different organization that’s addressing an urgent community need, and commits the club to helping raise funds for it.

The YWCA culinary training program “is well suited to the needs of the community,” Rotary gourmet dinner chairman David Kinyon said.

Anyone who has an interest in donating toward the YWCA project can contact Kinyon at 638-1119 or drkinyon@roadrunner.com.

Contact reporter Kaley Lynch at 439-9222, ext. 6245, or tweet to @Lynchie17.

Contact reporter Kaley Lynch at 439-9222, ext. 6245, or tweet to @Lynchie17