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Monique was working part time in the cafeteria at Algonquin College earlier this year, and having a difficult time making ends meet, when she unexpectedly received a special gift from a fellow employee – the gift of hope. The gift came from William, a graduate of The Ottawa Mission’s Food Services Training Program (FSTP).

Monique enjoyed working in the cafeteria, but lacked the formal training that would help her move ahead to a better job and a long-term career. William told her all about the FSTP, and she was intrigued enough to investigate further.

Monique has since graduated from the five-month program and can’t say enough about her experience. Asked about her first impression of The Mission she says, “I was in awe. People think this place is just a soup kitchen, but it’s so much more, and the door is always open.” Monique was equally impressed with the FSTP, which offers people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness an opportunity to gain the skills they need to find a good job.

She points out that, aside from working in a fully-equipped industrial kitchen, the program also has a theory component to it – and the textbooks used are from Algonquin College’s culinary program. Students also receive certification in First Aid, Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS), health and safety, and food handling.

Since graduating from the program, Monique is working part-time, and pursuing full-time opportunities. In her words, “The Mission, and the FSTP, have provided me with the motivation and confidence I need to build a better future. I am very grateful for this special gift.”

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