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For Immediate Release:  
For Further Information Contact:
January 14, 2005

Office of The Attorney General
- Peter C. Harvey, Attorney General
Juvenile Justice Commission
- Howard L. Beyer, Executive Director


Sharon Lauchaire


JJC Youth Graduate Culinary Program

Camden partnership focuses on careers

CAMDEN - The first class of culinary students graduated today from a collaborative vocational program between the New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission (JJC), Respond, Inc. and Union Local 54. Graduates were joined by fellow JJC residents and staff, community members and various elected officials to celebrate the milestone.

The Respond Culinary Program is an innovative culinary course that provides residents of two JJC residential community homes located in Camden county with extensive culinary training. The program provides youth with a myriad of culinary-based vocational skills to prepare them for jobs in the restaurant industry.

“The JJC is dedicated to realizing the individual potential of youth and working to change their futures,” said Howard L. Beyer, Executive Director, Juvenile Justice Commission. “The JJC is stepping up its efforts to help juveniles transition successfully back into their communities. By providing them with career skills, we can help them overcome the challenges they face once they leave the structure of the JJC. The Respond Culinary Program not only provides excellent career opportunities for youth, but also helps them establish relationships in their community. This inter-agency and public/private collaboration is yet another example of combining all available resources to help enact positive change in the lives of New Jersey’s youth and communities.”

The culinary program is a realistic, work-based learning experience. The intense 16-week course allows the participants to experience everyday situations such as punching a time clock, and the inspection of their uniforms by a Chef Instructor, in addition to sanitary practices and food preparation.

“The partnership between the New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission, Local 54 and Respond, Inc. has brought creativity in programming and a local neighborhood- based capacity to the training of selected students. Respond is looking forward to the expansion of the program at the present site and at a larger facility scheduled to open later in 2005. For more than 38 years, Respond has worked with local communities to determine needs and to provide exceptional services to children, youth, adults and families. This new partnership highlights what Respond is about,” said Wilbert Mitchell, Executive Director of Respond, Inc.

Local 54 provides the curriculum and funding for this innovative program, which is managed by a JJC Youth Transition Coordinator, who was an executive in the food industry prior to joining the JJC. In addition to classroom and hands-on kitchen exercises, the curriculum includes field trips to the Taj Mahal’s main kitchen and Borgata’s Pastry Shop located in Atlantic City, the Hilton Hotel’s banquet hall in Cherry Hill, and the Sysco Food Show in Philadelphia, allowing students to observe the food industry first hand.

Local 54 was awarded a New Jersey Department of Labor Youth Transition to Work (YTTW) grant in 2003. One prerequisite of this grant project was to develop partnership with schools, post-secondary institutions, community-based organizations, and employers to provide apprenticeship opportunities to New Jersey's youth.

"This project is a perfect example of partnership at work. Aside from the conventional training, this program gives the youth confidence in themselves and instills a work ethic, which many have never experienced. This program works together to provide the youth with a comprehensive background in the hospitality industry as well as life skills,” said Floyd C. Williams, Training and Education Director, Local 54.

“This marriage is one of mutual respect and admiration which includes a sense of urgency to see these young adults succeed and thrive. Local 54, the JJC and Respond, Inc., an admirable resource and source of support to the City of Camden, could not provide these opportunities without one another, and should be an example to other organizations that partnerships do work. The old saying, "It takes a village to raise a child", holds true to this program. Though the youth in the program are not children, it takes all parties involved to help them become the people we believe them to be,” continued Williams.

The students have worked very hard to achieve the skill level necessary to complete the program. The JJC, with the help of its partners in the community, will assist JJC youth who complete this program locate employment in the food services industry.

Realizing Potential & Changing Futures

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