On this Thanksgiving eve many are grateful for the holidays, but imagine what it’s like to be homeless with no job and no opportunities, especially at this time of year.
That’s reality for thousands of people in Massachusetts.
But a program run by the pine street inn has found a way to train people and create jobs at the same time. It’s called I-Cater. I spent some time with the people who work there. This is how my day went.
Joe Leblanc is chopping and slicing for roughly 2,000 Thanksgiving day meals.
“This week we’ll prep all week long and then on thanksgiving we’ll be here at 2 in the morning.”
Joe is the director of corporate catering for I-Cater. He’s not your average chef.
“I fell back on my luck and I joined this program.”
Joe had nowhere to turn and enrolled in I-Caters training program.
Executive Chef Frank Van Overbeeke runs I-Cater and teaches trainees to cook for shelter guests and corporate clients, which brings in about 1 million dollars a year. That money pays the trainees and keeps the program running.
“I- Cater is a social enterprise operated by the pine street inn. We have a very large training program here that helps people that are in transition, to get back on their feet and hopefully become productive citizens again.”
The program competes with some of the best restaurants in town
Chef Van Overbeeke has traveled the world and studied under some of the best. Trainees learn to make everything from a breakfast danish to more intense meals.
“Steak or prime rib we’ll be doing that, in fact for Christmas Eve we’ll be doing that for someone.
At any given time we have 25 trainees here for 6 months we graduate about 60 per year.”
The program can change lives leading to full time work for people who had run out of hope.
Pine Street Inn CEO Lyndia Downie believes programs like I-Cater are key to ending homelessness,
“Where it’s been incredibly successful is sending a message to our guests that you can get a job we’ll help you get a job were going to give you some skills. This is more than basic food service training; this is very hands on training people get a safe serve certificate.”
Joe Leblanc says life is good now thanks to the skills he picked up through
I-Cater. He loves to teaches others,
“I really like giving back to them its beneficial to me—and good for my heart I guess.”