Graduation day for the Mission’s Food Services Training Program students
The Food Services Training Program at the Ottawa Mission gives those less fortunate a chance to turn their lives around, and it has made a big impact on former and current graduates.
After four months of training, Sarah McCaffrey is finally graduating. She grew up on the streets of Ottawa, and is currently living with cancer, but she didn't let that stop her from doing what she loves.
"Figuring out how to make something delicious out of nothing was always a very important thing to me," says McCaffrey. "This was just a chance to hone in on my abilities and get some validation."
This is a celebration for students who completed the program, which has helped people using their services get jobs in kitchens across Canada with a 90 per cent success rate. The Mission's executive chef Ric Allen-Watson created the program in 2004.
"We don't look at the student's past. We look at their future," says Allen-Watson. "We have 10 students that are graduating our four month food services training program. So they’ve worked for the last four months very hard to get to this point. All 10 are fully employed and excited for a new future."
"All his vision. All his concept," says Mission CEO Peter Tilley. "What started as five students graduating in the first class is now up to 10, 11, 12 graduating on a regular basis. It’s a great thing."
Arnold Wabegijig has struggled with alcohol. He says this program has helped him eliminate most of his drinking.
“It changed my life,” says Wabegijig. “This program gave me the motivation to succeed. There were many challenges but I kept going.”
Today, ten students celebrate and look ahead to new careers thanks to The Mission and Chef Ric.
"Even me as a 40-year-old single mom on disability, I never thought in my wildest dreams that, not only would make it this far, but enjoy it just as much," says McCaffrey. "And be offered as many opportunities as I have been offered because of this program."
"I’m so grateful to the Ottawa Mission for this program," says Wabegijig. "And I thank you from the bottom of my heart."