A Pittsburgh program is helping those with barriers to employment find work – by teaching them how to cook in restaurant kitchens.
Marquis Ferro is 27. His whole life is ahead of him. But he can’t get there until he puts his past behind him.
"I was just incarcerated for 22 months. And I just got out September 1st of this year," he said.
He describes his life as a patchwork of drug dealing, guns, gambling and burglaries – with a few stints working in restaurant kitchens. So last month, he enrolled in Springboard Kitchens.
"Idle time is the devil’s playground. So just coming straight out of jail and not having no money, I was in a hurry to get into anything so I didn’t go back to doing wrong and this was the first available program and it was interesting. And like I said, whose not interested in honing their skill. I’m not a professional. This program gets me one step closer," he added.
It’s hard enough finding a job. But if you have a barrier to employment like a prison record, or a history of drug and alcohol abuse, if your homeless or just haven’t worked for a while, Springboard Kitchens is the kind of project that helps works through those barriers.
Based on a program in Seattle, it is several things – it’s job-training that teaches the basics of what it means to work in a kitchen and make massive quantities of food. The workers help them find jobs. Along the way, they help out with life skills. And it’s a working kitchen. The food they prepare gets delivered daily to homeless shelters and nursing homes and drop-in centers.