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Victory Trade School: Food school helps men reintegrate into work force

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Victory Mission is serving up work experience and life skills through the Victory Trade School, opened Sept. 2 at 1715 N. Boonville.

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|ret|The trade school offers a six-month food service and life skills program, said Lucas Endicott, public relations director.

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|ret|There are six college-level certifications offered through ProMgmt., a series of culinary learning programs by the National Restaurant Association, said Victoria Wyatt, director of the school. Each module is one month long and ends with a test.

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|ret|To be eligible, students must be male, at least 17 years old and demonstrate financial need. Additionally, they must have completed either a recovery or a self-evaluation program, been recommended by a counselor or experienced a group living environment, said Wyatt. There are nine students enrolled in the program, which is limited to 16 students.

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|ret|The cost for the program is $8,580 per student. These classes arent cheap, Wyatt said. Half the program cost is paid through donations to Victory Mission; the other half is made up in student labor at Cooks Kettle Restaurant, located on the first floor of the trade school.

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|ret|The value of student labor is calculated by taking the 30 hours a week they work at $5.50 per hour and multiplying it by the 26 weeks theyre in the program for a total of $4,290, Wyatt said.

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|ret|What they do is they work 30 hours a week in the restaurant. They work every rotation in the restaurant, and they do that not only to learn, but to pay their way, Wyatt said.

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|ret|Keeping your job earning your keep, is a Wyatt maxim. Its not a welfare program; you work for everything you get. Students are paid a stipend of up to $20 per week for incidentials.

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|ret|The financial need factor is important, according to Ruth Glascoe, registrar and life skills coordinator since March, because we really cant have students that can afford to go somewhere else coming in and taking the place of a man who really needs to get back out into the work force and needs skills.

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|ret|The 100-seat restaurant, named after Everett and Esther Cook, the founders of Victory Mission, is open 6 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday. It is closed on Saturday.

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|ret|A chapel/community room on the back of the restaurant can double as a private dining room available for booking luncheons and where the guys can get their banquet skills and catering skills, Wyatt said.

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|ret|The program

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|ret|Beginning with Introduction to the Hospitality Industry, students get hands-on, in-class instruction on food preparation and serving. Subsequent segments are ServSafe, a safety and sanitation program, Nutrition for Food Service and Culinary Professionals, two Professional Cooking courses and Supervision in the Hospitality Industry, Wyatt said.

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|ret|Student Ronald Owens from Jacksonville, Fla., said hes learned various kitchen procedures, such as proper storage practices, date-marking food products, methods of cutting and how to glaze a chicken.

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|ret|In her life skills classes, Glascoe addresses personality differences and methods to work through them.

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|ret|Long-range objectives of the school may make the program available to commuter students and women, Glascoe said. Two new students have been accepted and will begin the program in November, she added.

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|ret|Working alongside Wyatt and Glascoe are Steve Green, manager of Cooks Kettle, and two additional cooks. Glascoe teaches the life skills component of the program and Green teaches Bible and conflict resolution classes.

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|ret|Right now I am stretching myself very thin because I am teaching all of the core classes, Wyatt said, because Im the one with the certification through the National Restaurant Association. Plans are to have local visiting chefs from area restaurants come in and lend their expertise and walk students through one of their entrees. I need more of those kind of volunteers, she said.

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|ret|Revitalized space

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|ret|The cost to purchase and renovate the trade schools three-story building, formerly Cranks Drug Store, was about $1.2 million, Wyatt said. It was purchased about five years ago.

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|ret|The trade school also is a residential facility with three floors. There are four dorm rooms, with four men to a room, two classrooms with space for 32 people, a library, lounge, kitchenette, computer lab and a recreation room on the third floor. Wyatt and Glascoe have offices there, too.

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|ret|The men in the program have the responsibility and the accountability to do all the chores and keep that top floor, Wyatt added.

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|ret|The buildings second floor houses Victory Missions administrative offices, family ministries, and a food pantry.

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