President’s Update

President’s Report

 A period of transition is a good way to describe the last three months at KPEP. We have expanded our programming and learned a lot along the way. 

Culinary arts program graduates earn certifications

Our first class of culinary arts students finished their 10-week program in November. That class began as a closed session with 10 participants, five of whom completed the full 10 weeks and received both their ServSafe certification and their culinary arts certification.  One of the graduates is now employed with Canteen Services at our Kalamazoo – Olmstead Rd. facility. 

While we were very pleased with the curriculum, we found that the closed session approach was too limiting in a program like KPEP. So on November 21, we started the next session with an open enrollment approach. While the class comprises 10 one-week sessions with each weekly session covering a different topic, participants can start at any point in the curriculum. 

I am pleased to report that as of the calendar year end, we had a full class of 20 participants with eight on the waiting list. The expectations both in terms of participation and behavior are high. If at any time someone is not in compliance, he or she may be suspended for a while and someone else may be enrolled. That actually occurred in December with four of our students who are now on the waiting list to get back in.

Participation in this program is seen as a privilege. Residents are excited about the opportunity this program provides for them. Many of them have been in and out of facilities and/or treatment programs for much of their adult lives. This class gives them something different to do and provides them with the hope of a new skill and a good paying job once they finish. The fact that the class is only 10 weeks, albeit a jam packed 10 weeks, is attractive as well.

Custodial certification training underway

On January 9 we welcomed 14 students into our first custodial certification class. This class is being held at our Chicago Ave. facility. Perfection Commercial Services, a 27-year-old custodial services company, is our program partner. Laura Loyer Kujawa is the founder, owner, and CEO of the company that creates customized office and industrial cleaning programs for medical, manufacturing and educational customers in Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. 

“This is a chance for us to use our industry knowledge to give back to the community,” stated Kujawa. “We are very excited to get started with our program.”

In this custodial training program, Perfection Commercial Services will cover everything from the basic principles of cleaning and chemical training to equipment maintenance.

The students of the first class all said that the prospect of a new skill and a good paying job attracted them to the program. I will have an update on this program, hopefully including employment placements, in our next newsletter.