Vocational Programs Thrive

This fall marks the completion of another large KPEP Building Trades Vocational Training Program project.  The project is a two-family residential property located at the corner of Rose and Fellowes in Kalamazoo’s Vine Neighborhood.  The entire interior was updated and rehabilitated by building trades students.  

According to Bill DeBoer, President/CEO, “Students learned a myriad of skills while working in the house, including how to set cabinets, paint the exterior of a home, refinish wood floors, repair and patch drywall and so much more!” 

The home is owned by Kalamazoo Neighborhood Housing Services and will be sold this fall.  

Participants are now working on two home projects for the Kalamazoo County Landbank.  These homes should be finished in the next few months.  

In addition to the residential properties, building trades participants are also working on the upcoming Walnut & Park Diner.  Students have the advantage of shadowing the skilled tradesmen who are working on the project, while also performing some of the work themselves.  

The diner is slated to open at 1324 Portage Street in the Edison Neighborhood, in April 2020. It will offer traditional diner favorites, including biscuits and gravy, eggs cooked to order and other specialty items.    

The diner will be an extension of the Walnut & Park Café, providing Hospitality Vocational Training Program participants with valuable, real-world work experience. The addition of the diner will allow KPEP to double the capacity of the program. Students will participate in a rotation between classroom learning, training in the diner, training in the Walnut & Park Café and working in the production kitchen.  Students working in the diner will be able to learn various tasks such as line cook, host/hostess, server, cashier and prep cook.  

Our vocational programs continue to grow and demonstrate very tangible benefits for our residents and the community. In the final quarter of this fiscal year, building trades successfully graduated 16 participants who earned over thirty certifications.  In the same time period, the hospitality program saw nine successful graduates that earned over 40 certifications.