Thursday, October 15, 2009
JobTrain Trainee of The Month Celebration
Today I attended the Trainee of the Month Celebration. It is amazing to me no matter how many times I walk in through the doors of JobTrain that almost each time I am brought to tears. The stories of trials, tribulations and accomplishments, from all aspects of JobTrain are always inspirational. These stories range from the Founder all the way to the students they help.
Sharon Williams the Executive Director told a wonderful story about a man named Leo Sullivan who was a Reverend in a Church from Northern Philly. Over 40 years ago a despaired Leo was frustrated that his peers were never hired for jobs in any successful large company. One that stood out was Tastey Cakes. This was a time when urban rioting was at an all time high. So the Reverend set up a protest against Tastey Cakes, for not hiring any of the African Americans in their community. The head of Tastey Cakes, said "we would be happy to hire people from our community", so they did. Within a matter of weeks they had to let go of the new hires. I thought to myself why would they do such a thing, when they had just helped so many people.
They hired a bunch of people that had no skills, no training or experience, so it made sense they had to let them go. Leo Sullivan was a man who always said "Motivation without Preparation causes Frustration". He then realized that he needed to do more then just locate jobs for his peers, and that he needed a place to educate, train, and prepare them for new tasks they would preform at a new job. He then raised funds to turn a old jail house into OIC.
OIC was named that because during Leo's fundraisng efforts, he kept telling the prior story and his prospective donors would respond, "Oh I see"!! Leo soon after he created OIC in Pennsylvania, met a man named Father John Sweeny who was going through a similar situation in East Palo Alto he heard of OIC so together Father John Sweeny opened OICWest or just OICW. It was founded in Menlo Park over 40 years ago and is known today as JobTrain.
Over time I have been able to witness Graduations, Food Contests inside the Culinary Arts program, and once a month the Trainee of The Month Celebration. They award it to a person that exhibits great leadership skills, one that has overcome many obstacles to be where they are today. They have the qualities that embody what it will take to hold down a job after graduation. This month's award went to Margarita D'Evers from The Culinary Arts program. She was also awarded for her 100% attendance along with 29 other JobTrain students. It was such a great day hearing all the stories. It makes me so proud to be part of such a great organization.