Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘second chance’

Photo: Douglas Trattner
A Cleveland co-op trains refugees and others for produce-growing jobs.

I continue to find it fascinating that so many people who are making products for sale are also intent on providing job opportunities for refugees, ex-offenders, and others with challenges.

Douglas Trattner writes about one such effort at Cleveland Scene.

“It’s a brisk late-winter morning in Cleveland, but inside the greenhouses of Green City Growers it feels more like Tampa. …

“At 3.25 acres, this site is one of the largest urban greenhouses in the country, and it happens to sit in the heart of the economically depressed Central neighborhood. Inside the state-of-the-art hydroponic greenhouse, some 300,000 plants at various stages of growth float in shallow pools of nutrient-rich water. There are leafy heads of butter lettuce, colorful mixed-green blends, peppery upland cress and fragrant Italian basil.

“Opened in 2012, Green City Growers has had a promising, albeit challenging, run. Part of the ambitious Evergreen Cooperatives, which includes Evergreen Cooperative Laundry and Ohio Cooperative Solar, the greenhouse was the only one of the three employee-owned companies to not be profitable. That should change this year, says Jeremy Lisy, VP of sales. …

“As a chef and former owner of the specialty produce company KJ Greens, Lisy reached out to his former colleagues to see what types of products they were interested in. He added different lettuces and blends and beefed up sales. This year, the company is expected to hit $3 million in sales, doubling what it was just two years prior. …

“Green City Growers provides 38 people with living-wage jobs and a path to ownership. Working with programs like Refugee Response and Towards Employment, the greenhouse employs many people who might otherwise find it hard to secure gainful employment. On the current roster are people with nonviolent criminal records and immigrants from Bhutan, Guatemala and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“After one year of employment, workers get to join the co-op, which includes benefits like credit management and car and mortgage assistance. When the company begins to turn a profit, that money goes to the worker-owners in the form of bonuses and savings for retirement.

“Laurie ‘Spike’ Cook did [time] in the state pen but she currently is the transplant supervisor at the greenhouse and she sits on the board of the co-op. After leaving prison she searched in vain for a job for a full year until she took a class with Towards Employment. A week later she had a full-time job.

” ‘I haven’t missed a day of work in over a year,’ says Cook, who arrives an hour and half before her shift begins every day.

This place gave me a second chance. It makes me want to do better, stay better and do the right thing. Without this job I might have messed up. This job, right here, is the reason I wake up every morning. I plan on staying here until I retire.’

More here.

Photo: James Alan Edward
The nonprofit Beautiful Day trains refugees for the US job market. But if a refugee has a learning disability, the speed of doing even simple tasks may be too slow for a future employer. Let me know if you have a Providence-area job for a cheerful but challenged refugee. There’s someone I’d like to help.

033017-BeautifulDayRI-trainees-photo-by-James-Alan-Edward

Read Full Post »

Love this story by Leigh Vincola at EcoRI News.

“The Harvest Kitchen Project is one of the many arms of Farm Fresh Rhode Island that keeps local food circulating in our communities. The program takes area youth, ages 16-19, who are involved with juvenile corrections, and puts them to work making sauces, pickles and other preserves.

“The teenagers participate in a 20-week job-readiness program that prepares them for employment in the food industry. The program touches not only on kitchen skills but the on the many aspects of work in the culinary industry, from sales and customer service to local farm sourcing to teamwork and cooperation. …

“For the past several years, Harvest Kitchen has operated out of a commercial kitchen space in Pawtucket.”

But when Pawtucket Central Falls Development (PCF) “approached Farm Fresh with its rehabilitation plan for 2 Bayley St., a downtown [Pawtucket] multi-use building that would include affordable housing, retail space and job-training opportunities, the match seemed perfect.” More  at EcoRI, here.

I’ve been buying Harvest Kitchen’s applesauce at the Burnside Farmers Market, and I’m being completely honest when I say it’s the best applesauce I’ve had in years. That’s partly because I love chunks in my applesauce, but also because it’s sweet with no sugar added. If you return the empty jar, you get 25 cents back on the next jar.

Harvest Kitchen offers cranberry and strawberry applesauce, too. Other products include dried apple slices, peach slices in season, whole tomatoes, pickles with veggies, dilly beans and onion relish.

In addition to PCF, organizations that have helped to make this happen include Rhode Island Housing, RI Department of Children Youth and Families (Division of Juvenile Correction), Amgen Foundation, Fresh Sound Foundation, The Rhode Island Foundation and TriMix Foundation.

Find sales locations here.

Photo: FarmFreshRI

Read Full Post »

Washington-Sq-is-where-I-came-inWashington Square, New York City

Random photos from my travels.

My husband going into the Public Theater to see classmate Ted Shen’s musical, A Second Chance. The Playbill for the show. A delightful chandelier at the Public, with paddles that illuminate changing phrases.

Subway buskers playing a grandson’s favorite song, “When the Saints Go Marchin’ In.” Grand Central Station. The charming Iroquois Hotel. A flower-themed mosaic in the Lexington Ave. subway.

Gertrude Stein looking like herself in Bryant Park. And the Metropolitan Museum, where we saw a great photography show with my sister and brother-in-law. More on that later.

(Be watching for the relaunch of the Luna & Stella website, where one of the family pictures is of my sister at age 3, pictured with Suzanne’s maternal grandfather. … Did I mention this is a blog for Suzanne’s birthstone-jewelry company Luna & Stella?)

Public-Theater_NYC

Ted-Shen-Second-Chance-Playbill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The-Public_has-cool-chandelier

When-the-saints-go-marching-in

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grand-Central-NYC

Iroquois-hotel-treats-guests-right

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lex-Av-Subway-NYC

Met-Museum-NYC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gertrude-Stein-Bryant-Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Ted-Shen-Second-Chance-at-PublicWe went down to New York this weekend to see my husband’s classmate’s new musical.

Ted Shen wrote the book, lyrics, and music to A Second Chance, a lovely little cameo about a widower and a divorcee. The title refers to new beginnings for two people, but it’s hard for my husband and me not to think of new careers, too, since Shen was an investment banker for 30 years before turning to music so seriously.

At TheaterMania, where a couple of old reviews I wrote are still archived, Shen describes how he began to develop his musical after Stephen Sondheim gave him encouragement.

And he explains his style. “In my role as composer, my preference has been to emphasize the use of ‘action songs’ that show the characters interacting with each other and conversing primarily through lyrics rather than pure spoken dialog, and to limit the use of ‘introspection songs’ that stop the action to express feelings and inner thoughts. I have attempted to create a contemporary musical ‘language’ that is jazz-inflected rather than written in today’s predominant pop-based genre.’ ” More at TheaterMania.

Oskar Eustis, the artistic director of the Public Theater, where the show is being performed, says that Shen “has written some of the most elegant and sophisticated music I have heard in theater in many a moon.”

While in New York, we also saw the musical A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder (based on the movie Kind Hearts and Coronets). It was pure Broadway fun, and we laughed a lot. But A Second Chance gave us more to talk about after.

Consider checking out the site for the Shen Family Foundation, here, which “concentrates its grant-making in the area of musical theater through its funding support of works of exceptionally gifted and highly original musical theater composers.”

Photo: Suzanne‘s Dad reconnects with his classmate decades after business school and asks him to sign a Playbill.

032914-John-and-Ted-Shen-at-Public-Theater

Read Full Post »

My daughter-in-law passed this along. Her colleague, who is related to the founder, told her about it.

Becca Stevens, an Episcopal priest on Vanderbilt University’s campus in Tennessee, founded the Magdalene in 1997 to provide practical and emotional help to women often regarded as outcasts — ex-offenders, addicts, street people.

According to the website: “For two years, we offer housing, food, medical and dental needs, therapy, education and job training without charging the residents or receiving government funding.

  • Our six homes function without 24-hour live-in staff, relying on residents to create a supportive community, maintain recovery, and share household tasks.
  • Women come to Magdalene from prison, the streets and from across the Southeast and the country. …

“After four months, the women find work, return to school and/or enter Magdalene’s job training program at Thistle Farms, a social enterprise. …

“Magdalene’s programs are grounded in its 24 spiritual principles that advocate living gracefully in community with one another.”

The website also describes the Thistle Farms products: “By hand, the women create natural bath and body products that are as good for the earth as they are for the body. Purchases of Thistle Farms products directly benefit the women by whom they were made.

“Thistle Farms employs over 40 Magdalene residents or graduates. While working at Thistle Farms, women learn skills in manufacturing, packaging, marketing and sales, and administration. It is a supportive workplace where women acquire the skills they need to earn a living wage. Employees have the opportunity to put a percentage of their earnings in a matched savings account provided by Magdalene.” Read more.

Thistle Farms provides lots of ideas for holidays when you especially want to give gifts that help people. (This year I gave a few gifts from SERRV, for example, and my sister-in-law gave care packages from nonprofit San Francisco food incubator La Cocina, and people who bought charm necklaces at Luna & Stella, gave part of the cost to FreeArtsNYC.)

The products are all of such a quality as to make you want them at other times of year, too.

Photo: http://www.thistlefarms.org/
Women who work in the Thistle Farms Cafe head off for vacation Dec. 24.

Read Full Post »

Mark Guarino has a nice story in the Christian Science Monitor about a Chicago woman of great determination.

” ‘Pollinate’ is a word that Brenda Palms Barber likes to throw around when talking to people about her work.

She pollinates jobs for recently released inmates looking for a second chance. She pollinates faith among the people who take a chance in hiring them. She pollinates an upswing in North Lawndale, one of the most impoverished neighborhoods in Chicago, about five miles west of downtown.

“She also pollinates honey. At least that’s the job of the bees she has spent five years raising.

Indeed, Ms. Barber has brought swarms of bees to the city’s West Side, using them to foster job creation among a stigmatized group of people who live on the bottom rung of the economic ladder: black males who exit the state or county prison system with little formal education or job skills….

” ‘We have to be their first employers,’ she says. ‘We have to prove to society that people who did bad things, people who need second chances, can be positive in the workplace, that they will be loyal and hard-working and honest employees.’ “

More here.

Photo: David Harold Ropinksi/Sweet Beginnings
Brenda Palms Barber’s honey-products program has hired 275 ex-offenders since 2007. After 90 days, they shift to the outside workforce.

Read Full Post »