Ottawa, ON – Today The Ottawa Mission celebrated the graduation of the latest class of Food Services Training Program (FSPT) students trained at “Chef Ric’s”, The Ottawa Mission’s new social enterprise. Since its inception in 2004, 90% of FSTP graduates have found employment in the food service industry. Of the 10 students graduating this week, all 10 have secured positions in the industry (100%).
One of those graduates is Arnold Wabejigig. An intergenerational survivor of residential schools, he became increasingly dependent on alcohol and suicidal. Fortunately, his sister told him about the FSTP, and he was accepted. “This program gave me motivation to succeed.” Despite challenges such as being at class for 6 am, he persevered, and is now employed at Larga Baffin, a full-service boarding home for residents of Nunavut needing specialized medical care not available at home. “I’m so grateful to The Mission.”
Another graduate is Sarah. Coping with anxiety, attention deficit disorder, cancer, and a debilitating car accident, she recently found herself a single parent of two children and homeless. The experience provided by the FSTP has been momentous. “This program completely changed my life. I thought that my life was over, and it would have been very easy to give up. The sheer amount of opportunity provided by the FSTP has given me a new lease on life, and I’ve done things that I never thought possible. It’s provided me a real sense of validation and the ability to realize my potential.”
The FSTP is the creation of Chef Ric Allen-Watson, The Mission’s Director of Food Services. Finding himself alone and homeless at age 14, he knows the power of paying it forward. “Someone reached out to me and showed me that education could help. And that why I started this program: to give people the help they need to rebuild their lives.”
Since 2004, 236 people have graduated from the program, 90% of whom have gone on to positions in the food services industry. In September 2021, operations for the FSTP were moved from The Ottawa Mission’s kitchen to “Chef Ric’s”, The Mission’s new social enterprise to add more space and increase the capacity of the program. The next session of the FSTP begins on September 12.
“As Ottawa emerges from the pandemic, we anticipate that The Ottawa Mission will remain the first place of refuge for increasing numbers of very vulnerable people going forward for the next several years. By expanding this incredibly successful program at Chef Ric’s, we’re doing our part to help even more people in need,” Ottawa Mission CEO Peter Tilley concluded.
About The Ottawa Mission
Since 1906, The Ottawa Mission has been serving those who are homeless, hungry and lost by providing food, clothing, shelter and skills. In 2020-2021, The Ottawa Mission provided emergency shelter to an average of 185 men every night and served an average of 1,994 meals every day. The Ottawa Mission also provides to men and women health services, mental health and addiction treatment programs, hospice care, dental services, housing services, educational support, job training, spiritual care, and clothing to thousands in need in our community. In September 2020, The Ottawa Mission marked the one millionth hour that the shelter has been in existence since its founding in 1906. In 2019, the Mission became a housing-focused shelter reflective of its commitment to a home for everyone as a human right with the launch of its housing department. Visit ottawamission.com to learn more.
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