Months of hard work leading to new careers for graduates of the Ottawa Mission Food Service Program.
The Ottawa Mission celebrated the first graduation of its food service training program for students trained exclusively at “Chef Ric’s”, the new social enterprise at the Rideau Street shelter.
Thirteen students graduated in an in-person ceremony held Thursday; and, even on graduation day, 11 students have already secured positions in the restaurant industry.
“I’m really proud of myself and really grateful,” Forough AliKarami, a graduate of the program, told CTV News Ottawa.
“I really have a passion for cooking. I love cooking, working in culinary services.”
AliKarami is originally from Iran; and, arrived in Canada in July 2021. She began volunteering in the Ottawa Mission kitchen shortly thereafter.
She says working in the kitchen helped her prepare for the FSTP.
The training program taught her the skills needed to work in this industry, and she has already found a job at Caravela’s restaurant in Orleans.
“It really helped me develop my skills and gain the power I needed to work full-time in a restaurant.”
The graduation ceremony was dedicated to one of the thirteen graduate students, Rachel Hauraney, a student who died suddenly earlier this month. His parents accepted the school leaving certificate.
The four-month training program launched in 2004 has changed many lives since.
“Some of them come to see us and have absolutely nothing; then they leave, they have a job and we help them — it’s a global program, so we help them in several ways, if they need help with housing. their whole life has changed. You know, it’s like a fresh start for them,” said Food Services Manager Ric Allen-Watson. “It’s amazing, we thought, it’s nearly 250 graduates since we started the program with a 90% pass rate; success means that upon graduation, they are effectively employed. It’s such a rewarding experience.”
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